The United States Department of Justice has received reports that fraudsters are creating websites mimicking unemployment benefit websites, including state workforce agency (SWA) websites, for the purpose of unlawfully capturing consumers’ personal information.
To lure consumers to these fake websites, fraudsters are reportedly sending spam text messages and emails purporting to be from an SWA and containing a link.
“The fake websites are designed to trick consumers into thinking they are applying for unemployment benefits and disclosing personally identifiable information and other sensitive data. That information can then be used by fraudsters to commit identity theft,” the Department of Justice wrote in a press release Thursday.
Unless it’s from a known and verified source, consumers are advised not to click on links in text messages or emails claiming to be from SWA and offering the opportunity to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Instead, anyone needing to apply for unemployment benefits should go to an official SWA website, a list of which can be found at https://bit.ly/3eeoVNV.
If you receive a text message or email claiming to be from an SWA and containing a link or other contact information, report the communication to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling 866-720-5721 or using the NCDF Web Complaint Form found at: www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
If you believe you may have entered information into a fraudulent website, resources on how to protect your information can be found at: www.identitytheft.gov.
To learn more about identifying and protecting yourself from phishing attempts, go to www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams or www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/spoofing-and-phishing.
Further information about the SWA-imposter scheme, and other major scams targeting American consumers, can be found at the Justice Department’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force website: www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch/transnational-elder-fraud-strike-force.