Imagine walking into work one day and being called into the boss’s office only to be questioned about why you have filed for unemployment?! Clearly you have a job…or at least you thought you did five minutes ago! In this case, you are most likely a victim of an employment identity theft scam.
While this kind of identity theft isn’t necessarily new, it is becoming more and more prevalent with the loss of so many jobs over the last year. Employment identity theft targets both the employed and the unemployed and is costing states millions of dollars. Not to mention the devastation it creates for the victim.
Suppose you have lost your job and do apply for unemployment. You receive a notice that you have been denied because you have already been receiving unemployment for the last six months! Unlike other forms of identity theft – like taking money from a bank account or using someone’s credit card – you might not find out about unemployment ID theft right away.
So how do you know if you’ve been a victim? One is the way mentioned above, directly from your employer. Another is by mail. Make sure to pay careful attention to any mail from the IRS or the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are three different notices you might receive from the IRS:
• IRS Notice CPO1E – Employment Related Identity Theft
• IRS Notice CP2000 – Request for verification of unemployment payments or credits
• IRS Notice CP2057- Check your records to confirm the income you received.
You could also receive notice from the SSA regarding changes, adjustments or cancellations of benefits you may receive because of income you didn’t earn. Or you might receive a 1099 or W-2 from an employer for which you never worked. If you receive any of these, you need to contact the IRS or SSA immediately.
Due to the Pandemic a lot of people who have lost their jobs and aren’t comfortable going back to an office are looking for remote jobs. While there are a lot of opportunities there, it has also become a playground for identity thieves. When applying for remote work normally your paycheck will be direct deposit into your checking account. Do not give your banking information to anyone before you have been offered the job. If that information is requested on any online application, it is best to move on. It is important to thoroughly investigate any company to which you are applying. Along with your banking information, if the application asks you for your social security number to do a background check do not give it out! It is illegal for a potential employer to do a background check before they have interviewed you. Any potential employer asking for your social on an application should be a huge red flag!
Desperation is at an all time high for some right now, which has caused a tremendous increase in identity theft. Employment identity theft most especially because it is fairly easy to pull off and it can take time for it to be discovered. The best thing to do is guard your social security number and be very very careful about who you are giving information to and what information you are giving them.