ID thieves filing for unemployment benefits

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State officials are warning people to watch out for identity theft scams centered around unemployment benefits.

On Monday, the state Talent Investment Agency, Unemployment Insurance Agency and Michigan State Police held press conferences in several cities, including Grand Rapids, to warn of the dangers.

Officials say they received many unemployment benefit-related complaints at the end of 2017. They blamed the large number of data breaches around the nation earlier in the year that compromised names, addresses and Social Security numbers — all things needed to file for unemployment benefits.

The state said it has seen fewer complaints lately after amping up antifraud efforts including providing more and better ways to report fraud, adding checks on “questionable” applications, restructuring its investigations division to find fraud more easily and improving coordination between state and federal agencies. Still, the problem remains.

“Here at MSP, we do everything that we can to solve this type of crime. It is a high-reward, low-risk crime… However, citizens also need to  be educated and made aware of all the scams, the fraudulent acts and the identity theft that are taking place here in Michigan,” Detective 1st Lt. James Grady said.

Officials reminded people to protect their Social Security numbers, giving them out only when absolutely necessary and never carrying their Social Security cards.

You should also shred important documents rather than throw them away.

It’s also wise to review your credit report at least once a year. You’ll be able to see if someone has opened an account in your name or if someone has gained access to your accounts.

>>Online: More identity protection tips

If you think you’re getting scammed or if you notice some suspicious activity on your account, call police.   

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