Since the CARES Act was passed in March of this year, almost every state in the country has been hit by increased unemployment fraud. According to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) website, “Criminal enterprises in possession of stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file large amounts of illegitimate unemployment claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme.”
Back in April, we shared this announcement which provided instructions on how to dispute a claim. Fake unemployment claims are on the rise once again in Massachusetts and nearly 20% of our faculty and staff have had claims filed in their name, myself included. While this is not limited to higher education institutions, other colleges and universities have also been impacted. There’s no reason to believe that any of our systems have been the source of this information in any form of attack or breach.
HR staff members are proactively checking the state’s Department of Unemployment Assistance website daily for new claims. When a new claim is received the individual is notified so they can take the appropriate action to notify the state of a fraudulent claim. HR staff will also help protect you by disputing claims for those who are actively employed.
We recognize this is an unnerving situation. This summer a press release from the FBI linked these attacks to information from previous commercial data breaches and public websites. This has led us to believe this is an attack on the state DUA, not anyone specifically here at Williams
The best action individuals can take to prevent identity theft, in general, is to monitor their credit accounts. Everyone should review their free annual credit reports and look for accounts that they don’t recognize. You might also consider freezing your credit report, which can prevent new accounts from being created in your name.
For specific payroll questions please contact Carol Rand, Payroll Specialist, at [email protected]. Our employee assistance program can also provide resources related to identity theft, financial, and legal issues.
Please visit Unemployment Fraudulent Claims FAQs