Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced today that Pennsylvania unemployment compensation (UC) claimants will soon receive correspondence with guidance to register for free credit-monitoring to ensure the safety of their personal data.
L&I announced in January it would offer these services amid an ongoing investigation into unusual account changes within Pennsylvania’s UC system. UC systems nationwide have been targeted by fraudsters since unemployment spiked to historic levels at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and caused unprecedented demand for UC benefits.
L&I has partnered with Identity Theft Guard Solutions Inc. (IDX) to offer eligible UC claimants up to 12 months of credit monitoring, a $1 million insurance reimbursement policy and fully managed identity recovery services.
This week, the department began the process of mailing notifications about these services to all eligible individuals. The letter claimants receive from IDX will have the information required for registration and answers to potential questions, so the registration process cannot be started by a claimant until they receive the letter. Eligible individuals can register at https://response.idx.us/pauc/ or by calling 833-774-1231 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The deadline to enroll is June 8, 2022.
“We know that Pennsylvanians place tremendous trust and confidence in our agency to serve them when they need help the most and to protect their tax dollars from misuse and theft. For all of us at L&I, this is a sacred responsibility, one that we have never and will never take lightly,” Berrier said. “We are working steadfastly with the Office of Administration and our partners in law enforcement to investigate, identify, and eliminate any potential fraudulent activity. I encourage all eligible UC claimants to register for these free services because we all deserve the peace of mind that our personal information is safe.”
L&I encourages any UC claimant who believes their account has experienced an unusual change to contact the department and follow the steps outlined below.
- Individuals can report suspected unemployment fraud by visiting the UC Benefits Website and clicking “Report Fraud” at the bottom of the page to complete and submit the Identity Theft Form. Do not log in.
- Employers should indicate the claim is fraudulent in their response to the Notice of Claim Filed.
- To report identity theft fraud related to the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, please click here.
To report fraud by phone, call the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469.
L&I recommends that individuals who suspect they are the victims of identity theft should file a police report with local law enforcement and provide a copy of the police report to the Office of Unemployment Compensation.
The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that victims of identity theft should also report their information to the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Victims should also consider starting a recovery plan with the Federal Trade Commission.
Between March 2020 and January 2022, L&I received about 6.9 million claims for UC benefits, including special federal programs created in response to the pandemic. The department has responded to this unprecedented need by distributing more than $48.5 billion in benefits to Pennsylvanians during that time.
In the early months of the pandemic, fraudsters initially targeted the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, a special program created by the federal government to provide unemployment benefits to individuals who lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are not typically eligible for UC. In most of these fraud attempts, fraudsters used stolen identities – obtained from data breaches outside state government – to submit illegitimate claims. In more recent months, fraudsters have increasingly targeted traditional UC.
In Pennsylvania, L&I and OA have collaborated with law enforcement agencies across the state to identify fraudsters and pursue prosecution. Pennsylvania’s system for filing UC claims uses numerous fraud-detection measures, including virtual identity verification vendor ID.me to verify the identities of all new unemployment applicants. The department also recently implemented multi-factor authentication, a two-step process that adds an extra layer of protection.