BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Have you gotten a text lately saying you have thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits? Or perhaps a message claiming to be from the Department of Labor? Chances are it's a scam.
These are just a few of the ways the Maryland State Police and the Department of Labor's Unemployment Division say fraudsters are targeting Marylanders in hopes of stealing their unemployment insurance benefits.
Authorities say scams like this are on the rise. In fact, the Department of Labor has flagged 2.3 million unemployment assistant claims as fraudulent since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That's why the state is getting the word out about these phishing scams, which aim to trick unsuspecting victims into handing over personal details so they can exploit that information for their personal gain.
Here's how it works: scammers posing as the state send texts with a link to a bogus website asking for residents' unemployment logins. Once those details are entered, the scammer can hijack the victim's payments.
While the website from the link might look legitimate at first glance, authorities want you to know that they're not and you should avoid clicking on any unexpected links sent to your phone or digital device.
Don't Get Scammed
Below are some tips provided by the state to help you recognize these scam texts and avoid falling victim to them:
- Disregard text messages claiming to provide unemployment assistance. The Unemployment Division does not correspond with claimants through text messages and will not ask you to verify your identity.
- The Unemployment Division does not charge residents for assistance with their unemployment insurance, so do not send payments to anyone who wants money in exchange for help with this program.
- The division does not correspond with unemployment claimants via direct messages on social media. If you receive a message claiming to be from the state, it's safe to assume it's one of these scams.
- Do not hand over sensitive details related to your Maryland unemployment insurance claim over email unless you're sending that information to an email address that ends in @maryland.gov.
What Can You Do?
If you believe you've fallen victim to an unemployment insurance scam, there are resources available to help you:
- Report fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to the Maryland Department of Labor by visiting MDunemployment.com or emailing email@example.com
- Concerned your identity has been stolen? File a report with your local police department and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center online.
- Keep regular tabs on your credit. You can get a credit report free of charge either by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting annualcreditreport.com.
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