Ed Bradley, CFP®, ChFC®
Washington’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to a record 15.4% in April as a result of the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic (as reported by the state’s Employment Security Department). With more than 1 million people filing for unemployment since the stay-at-home order was put in place by Governor Inslee in March, it is without a doubt that the system is overloaded. Which is also why there has been a significant rise in fraudulent unemployment claims. Just this week, it was reported that ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ was lost to the scheme as joblessness continues to surge. And unfortunately, no one is immune. In the past week clients, family members, and even some of our team members have had phony claims filed on their behalf. It is likely that you, or someone you know, may have also been impacted by this scam. What should you do if you have been impacted? How can you determine if a fraudulent claim has been filed in your name in the first place? Here are a few helpful resources and tips to help ensure you protect your identity.
Have you or your employer received letters from the state informing them of unemployment claims you never filed?
- Use the secure fraud reporting form to alert Washington Employment Security to an imposter claiming benefits under your name.
How can I check proactively?
- Check online at wa.gov. Simply creating an account on your own could prevent someone from creating a phony account and filing a claim on your behalf in the future.
- If the system comes back saying that your Social Security Number is linked to another email address that is not your own, you may be a fraud victim. Report the potential fraud to the Employment Security Department and King County Sheriff’s office.
What are some steps I can take to proactively protect my identity?
- Request your free credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com. The three major credit bureaus recognize the importance of accessing your credit during these times and are offering free weekly online reports through April 2021.
As we have seen this week, these claims can hit any one of us. It is important to remain proactive, be vigilant and continue to check the above sites to maintain control over your identity. With so much stress and uncertainty weighing on us all during these uncertain times, please reach out to us at any time.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.