8 tips to avoiding unemployment-benefit scams
Hi guys, if you missed our first episode on how not to get scammed if you’ve been laid off by Covid-19, be sure to check it out. I go through the top 5 unemployment scams targeting those who have been laid off and how to identify them. Look, unemployment scams have skyrocketed in recent months and the last thing we need in this economy are more victims, don’t you think? So in this second part, I’ll give you 8 tips to avoiding unemployment-benefit scams. So let’s jump right in.
1. Don’t respond to unsolicited emails or text messages
Never open any unsolicited or suspicious communications, whether it’s a text or email message. Also, never download an attachment that’s unsolicited, even if it looks like it’s from someone you know. Scammers trick people all the time by making their communications appear legitimate.
Remember to never respond to text messages that mention your unemployment-insurance benefits. State employment services will not reach out to you by text message, so that’s a big red flag that a scammer is targeting you.
2. Never click on website links in emails
Phishing emails sometimes appear legitimate. They may look like they’re from someone you trust, like your bank. Even so, don’t click on website links inside the email.
Instead, go to the official website — with the “HTTPS” and padlock in the URL bar. Whatever notices they have for you are probably in your portal. Not sure? Call your bank to double check.
3. Watch out for “drive-by” downloads
Be mindful of websites that automatically try to install something on your computer as soon as you visit them. That’s probably malware and it doesn’t just happen on fake websites. Sometimes legitimate sites or advertising networks that are used by countless sites are hacked and get embedded with malicious code. This has happened to both Yahoo and CNN, and it infected millions of computers. One of the best ways to protect against drive-by downloads is to keep your computer’s operating system and web protection software up-to date and if you come across something suspicious on a website that looks like it’s trying to install something onto your computer, shut down your web browser right away.
4. Don’t give out your personal information to unofficial websites
It can be frustrating trying to apply for unemployment benefits by phone or online. You might be tempted to visit a website that claims to help you apply for UI benefits. Don’t do it. Remember, third parties can’t apply for your benefits. And applying is free. You’ll need to go through your state government’s official website or call the call the government agency and keep at it. Our local governments know how important this is to us as citizens so they’re working around the clock to help the community (I hope).
5. Don’t rely on information from unofficial websites
Be suspicious when researching unemployment benefits on the internet. Don’t rely on websites that claim hard-and-fast rules, because different states have different rules and the rules are always changing.
For example, the federal government is allowing states to amend their laws to provide new unemployment insurance benefit options related to COVID-19. Always go directly to your state’s official unemployment-insurance website for current information and instructions.
6. Never give out your personal info over email or text message
Never share sensitive information like your Social Security number, banking information, PINs, passwords, or any sensitive medical info by email or text message. By the way, this is good practice in general. We often come across HR managers for companies with private information being sent by email to them by employees and job applicants alike. Think of email as a postcard. You wouldn’t put your name and social security number on a postcard and put it into a mailbox would you? Everyone would be able to see it along the chain of delivery! Well email is the same, only even less secure than the post office. By the way, state offices won’t ever ask for your credit card information so if that comes up, know that it’s a scam.
7. Don’t wire money
If you receive any communication about your unemployment-insurance benefits filing where you are being asked for money, disregard it. Scammers are claiming to be able to help you file your benefits for a fee. Fraud! If they claim they’re a state government representative and need a fee to complete your application, hang up. Disregard! Remember, it’s free to file.
8. Keep your security software up to date
If you fall for a scam or accidentally download malicious software, the last line of defense will be the security software installed on your computer and other devices. Be sure to update your software regularly so it has the latest security patches and protection.
So, to sum things up:
If you find yourself unemployed, it’s a good idea to contact your state’s unemployment insurance program to see if you’re eligible for unemployment-insurance benefits and begin your application.
Be sure to go to your state’s official site for this information because scammers have created fake sites to fool you into sharing your personal info. Be careful not to submit your personal information on a fake site or a fake email or phone number.
You’ll find a link here to the U.S. Department of Labor’s page that’s dedicated to filing for unemployment insurance, determining eligibility, and explaining how to apply. If eligible, you’ll need to file your claim in the state where you worked. You can do that by phone, in person or online.
The Department of Labor also has set up an Unemployment Benefits Finder page where you can connect to all of the state unemployment insurance programs. The finder provides general information about the program, along with how to file a claim both online and by phone.
To figure out how to file properly in your state, just scroll down the list of states provided, select yours, and you’ll see the official links and phone numbers for filing unemployment benefits in your state.
Well guys, I hope you found this this information helpful. Feel free to pass it along to someone who you think might benefit from it, or better yet, like this video and subscribe to our channel.
I’m Attila from Cylanda. Stay safe out there.