ALBANY, NY (WSYR-TV) — You knew it was going to happen. With more than two million people in New York thrown out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you had to know someone would try and take advantage of the crush of claims being processed by the state.
New York Attorney General Letitia James says her office has received complaints that scammers have obtained databases with personally identifiable information and are using that information to file for unemployment benefits.
“During these uncertain times, unemployment benefits are a safety net for many individuals and families who have lost their jobs. To exploit the use of these funds and overload a system that is already processing unprecedented numbers of claims per day is as shameful as it is illegal. My office remains committed to holding accountable anyone who violates the law, and I continue to encourage the public to report suspected scams to my office,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said.
James says the scammers use so-called “mules” to act as intermediaries to file for benefits online.
As you may recall, the New York State Labor Department was flooded with about two million claims for unemployment benefits during a less than two month period, crashing its website and phone system.
The agency was under extreme pressure to process and approve claims as quickly as possible for New Yorkers suddenly thrown out of work by the pandemic.
James says if you suspect a fraudulent claim has been filed on your behalf you should report it to your employer and report it online to the State Labor Department.
You can also file a complaint with the attorney general’s office or call 1-800-771-7755.
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