Beware of Unemployment Phishing Texts Trying to Obtain Personal Information

Beware of fraudsters using phishing texts referencing unemployment claims from fake State Workforce Agencies to get personal information from your employees.

What We are Hearing About Unemployment Claims Phishing Texts:

In recent weeks, our Unemployment Cost Management team has been contacted by many of our employer clients about an increase in potentially fraudulent text messages being sent to their employees. As one of the nation’s largest providers for unemployment claims and cost management, we are always on the lookout for fraudulent claims being filed, but this is a newer issue.

Unlike the actual filing of imposter claims by the bad actors, these fraudsters are sending text messages directly to individuals with links to fictitious State Workforce Agency (SWA) websites. The recipient may or may not have a current or active unemployment claim, but when the user clicks on the link, he/she is solicited to provide information that might be used to obtain personal information. In fact, some are even asking recipients to click the link if they haven’t filed a claim, further confusing people and putting them at risk. 

What To Do or Not Do if You or Your Employee Receives One of These Unemployment Claims Phishing Texts:

Should such a text message be received, the individual is encouraged to exercise caution and good cybersecurity practices. The individual may want to verify directly that the SWA is attempting to make contact before clicking on links in an unsolicited message. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a press release earlier this year to provide further insight into this scam. This content provides a nice overview of the "why behind the what" and some suggested steps to take - or not take - if such a text is received. 

For example, they suggest:

  • Never click links in an unexpected text message or email claiming to be from an SWA.
  • If you have applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and get a text or email about your application, contact your SWA directly using contact information from its official website.
  • If you need to apply for UI benefits, use this link to find your state’s UI application page. Follow the directions you find there.
  • If you gave someone your sensitive information, visit IdentityTheft.gov/unemploymentinsurance to learn how to help protect your credit from scammers or, if necessary, report that someone has misused your personal information to possibly claim UI benefits.

What’s Next: 

Get the word out to your employees to be on the lookout for these phishing texts so they don’t fall victim to potential fraud. The websites of many state UI agencies have added warning messages about this phishing activity, but while not every state may have issued such messaging, the underlying theme would be applicable for all. Examples include:

Working with Equifax Workforce Solutions is one of the best ways to help you protect your organization from unemployment claims fraud. We have procedures in place to try and identify fraudulent claims before they are ever processed, and check your charges on the back end to help ensure that you don’t pay more than you should in unemployment taxes. For more information on unemployment fraud, see our blog post, “Increased Unemployment Insurance Fraud Noted on COVID-19 Claims” or listen to our webinar “What’s New and What’s Next: Current State of Unemployment”.

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