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In a large-scale scam erupting in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, imposters are filing claims for unemployment benefits, using the names and personal information of people who have not filed claims. People learn about the fraud when they get a notice from their state unemployment benefits office or their employer about their supposed application for benefits.

If this happens to you, it means someone is misusing your personal information, including your Social Security number and date of birth. Act fast. Here are steps that can help you protect your finances and your credit:

  1. Report the fraud to your employer. Keep a record of who you spoke with and when.
  2. Report the fraud to your state unemployment benefits agency. You can find state agencies here.
    • If possible, report the fraud online. An online report will save you time and be easier for the agency to process.
    • Keep any confirmation or case number you get. If you speak with anyone, keep a record of who you spoke with and when.
  3. Visit to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next important recovery steps. These include placing a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit, getting your free credit reports, and closing any fraudulent accounts opened in your name. also will help you add a free extended fraud alert or credit freeze to your credit report. These make it more difficult for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.
  4. Review your credit reports often. Through December 2023, you can check your reports every week for free through This can help you spot any new fraud quickly.

One other thing: The unemployment payments usually are deposited to accounts the imposters control. But sometimes payments get sent to the real person’s account, instead. If this happens to you, the imposters may call, text, or email to try to get you to send some or all of the money to them. They may pretend to be your state unemployment agency and say the money was sent by mistake. This a money mule scam and participating in one could cause you more difficulties.

If you get benefits you never applied for, report it to your state unemployment agency and ask for instructions. Don’t respond to any calls, emails, or text messages telling you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Your state agency will never tell you to repay money that way. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.

Updated September 23, 2022 to reflect the extension of weekly free credit reports through December 2023.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

June 23, 2020
How can I verify an unknown phone number referring to an unauthorized payment?
June 25, 2020
I was contacted by multiple state unemployment agencies stating I was eligible or receiving benefits which i did not apply for state of Michigan unemployment agency said they deposited 6,840$ into my account which I received and gave instructions to send it to a ms Tracy Alfred upon learning of the scam I relinquished the money order back to me and is in the necessary process of returning most of money unfortunately a portion went into bitcoins so I need to make some arrangements to pay that back also was eligible to receive 10,000$ for unemployment from the state of Massachusetts but made a fraud report out to the state’s unemployment agency Federal trade commission also knows
November 11, 2020

In reply to by Michael70Don't…

I was called by an unemployment office stating that after I had applied for benefits and found to be eligible, that they found records of someone a Male with totally different name was using my social security number to gain employment in Salt Lake City Utah. Did what they told me to do and who to contact and learned that my information was leaked by equifax
Pandemic Worker
June 27, 2020
Ohio is a mess. I was never able to apply for pua. I honestly called at least 25 times and they said (when i finally got through) it was going to be "done by hand ". I told them at that time i had been unable to apply!! they told meto wait (it's been three months). it paid out June 20th to a Green dot card with a NY phone number. Over $7000. I cant even get through to report it! I sent an email.....will call BCI Monday.
Michele Hill
September 17, 2020

In reply to by Pandemic Worker

What a nightmare..I believe it was someone I mother died in May from covid..I haven't worked since march..haven't received a dime..I believe well over 7,000 dollars.. I've went hungry and now no water two weeks. No friends..omg..
June 30, 2020
I definitely don’t qualify for UI I’m disabled & im on a fixed income, I keep calling UI for a week now, I don’t know what to do I get weird phone calls, I’ve called everywhere, my local police said nothing they can do either.
June 30, 2020
I have so far gotten notification from two states I do not live in that someone has applied for unemployment benefits in my name. I have already put a security alert on my credit file. Is there anything else I can do to prevent future attempts to apply for benefts?
FTC Staff
October 23, 2020

In reply to by KHBN

Use the tips listed at the top of this blog.

Report the fraud to your state unemployment benefits agency. You can find state agencies here.

  • If possible, report the fraud online. An online report will save you time and be easier for the agency to process.
  • Keep any confirmation or case number you get. If you speak with anyone, keep a record of who you spoke with and when.

Visit to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next important recovery steps. 

Wasi shaikh
July 05, 2020
I have no idea if someone is using my name for unemployment benefits. I have not filed for unemployment benefits.
Lucy Jane
July 06, 2020
Why does my government allow major credit card companies, financial institutions, etc., to share or sell my personal information, especially my SSN? I cannot limit the data they "share or sell" because laws are passed which give companies my rights of privacy. Something's really should be kept private. I have no problem with sharing my information with a Court of Law, or other law enforcement agencies. But, when they sell my personal information, I think I should receive compensation for their gain at my expense. I'm the one who receives the marketing calls, and there are many, even at two am. This site gives tips on how to avoid identification theft and yet laws are passed that allow almost every company to release my SSN to anyone they please. That number is my identity. I love my country and will defend it to the end. I thank God that I was born in the United States of America. My ancestors lost their men and their boys fighting for our freedom.
AndreDon't use…
July 14, 2020
Is it possible to get yr money back from unemployment if they issued a card u never got that someone was using
July 14, 2020
Ive tried to file tor Unemployment but found out theres already an account in my name with my SS# and ive never filed for unemployment before and CANNOT get thru to office!
July 17, 2020

In reply to by KristaB

Somebody used my ss# to file for unemployment and I can't get through to report it, I only found out when I myself tried to get my pua benifets becuz Lord knows I need them, what can I do? They stole my opportunity for a new life, I'm beyond frustrated, will I get the money back? Plz reply ASAP
December 24, 2020

In reply to by Klong

Same thing happened to me. Have you had any resolution to your dilemma? I reported to I still can't get my unemployment benefits in my state though. Someone please advise...
July 24, 2020

In reply to by KristaB

Hey there! My gf is going through this issue and can’t get a hold of anyone in NYC to help. Were you able to solve your problem? If so, how did you go about doing it? Any help would be much appreciated.
July 28, 2020

In reply to by KristaB

This happened to my son as well. His employer did not respond to the notice sent, so the scammer has been getting benefits under his SSN since April. So he goes to apply for UI and is told this SSN is being used already. It has taken two months to get someone at unemployment office to research it. The UI offices should NEVER start paying unless they get a confirmation from the employer. It's a total mess. My son still has not gotten any benefits. These thieves need to be put in JAIL (with no access to the internet!!!)
August 19, 2020

In reply to by KristaB

Did you resolve this? I’m having same problem don’t no how to get ahold of anyone
Don't use shel…
February 24, 2021

In reply to by gbabyy

Has anybody heard of this my husband went to fill out for unemployment we just figured out that he was able to get it since he’s been self-employed when he goes to put his information to fill it out it says that his Social Security card number has been is being used so we go to try and change the password and do user name because he did have unemployment many many years ago and it won’t let us do that says it’s the wrong information well I don’t remember the information from 1020 years ago I’m putting the information in that I have now you figured the Social Security number was in the birthdate and name would do it has anyone had a problem like this saying your Social Security number is being used already
October 16, 2020

In reply to by KristaB

Hi Kirsta, I am on the same situation as you. Have you been able to talk to someone? it is impossible since they ask for a pin number that I obviously do not have. Thanks
January 14, 2021

In reply to by KristaB

I am a victim as you are. I filed a fraud claim with the Federal & State website. I filed a Identity theft claim with my local police dept and that's about all you can do. I've tried contacting DOL several times and stayed on hold for hours then the automated system disconnects your call. It's frustrating. I've been dealing with this since mid last year.
July 16, 2020
I was recently locked out of my unemployment use all my personal information and still cannot get in the system I don't know if someone use my information or not waiting for the IRS to call back this is bad that people take advantage of you at a time like this.
Yvonne Jones
July 19, 2020
I live in Minnesota and got an Illinois unemployment card in the mail. Someone filed unemployment using my information
July 20, 2020
How is it possible for someone to use my ss# & my birthday to collect the PUA unemployment $ using a different name &email ? I filed a regular unemployment claim ,I didn't qualify but why didn't a red flag go up showing 2 differant names under same ss# & bday. I even told unemployment back in June someone is using my info they just kept telling me I have to file a reg claim first so I did then they still cldnt help me they said I had to talk to someone in existing claims which is not possible. So 1&1/2 months later I finally got someone I file new claim dept .to help me & she said fraud was going on diff name address & email but my ss# & bday. Why couldn't they do that in the first place,all this time I'm without place to live bcuz someone is collecting $not theirs. What can be done help please
MIke G
July 21, 2020
This is a Prime example of why Unemployment benefits should not be allowed to be filed for online. If you have to provide ID to a live person, this particular scam would have been unable to be performed. But no............
July 23, 2020
Someone is using my social security number and my name to obtain unemployment benefits. Does the US federal government have a plan in place to protect my us federal government issued ID# from misuse? I mean a legitimate plan, not a recommendation to, "Check your credit reports". How do I know if someone is using my social security benefits?
July 25, 2020
I'm desperately trying to find out if someone used my SSI number to get a puc check my SSI card was stolen
August 02, 2020
Someone filled for unemployment using my ssn but they didn’t have my birthdate, so does that mean I’m okay for other fraud?
August 03, 2020
No its realy myself getting them and it was like a break that fell from the sky. But, I know a lot of scammers doing it who need to stop. Its not patriotic to steal from your country and lie.I know of people who neglect it and those like myself whom will try to give back to my country seven times back in duty!
Randy Jackson
August 05, 2020
I filed for unemployment and I receive checks from Pennsylvania is this a fraud or a mistake?
August 14, 2020
My brother in law is incarcerated and he thinks someone may have took his info and gave it to someone on outside to file an unemployment claim. Is there a way we can find out if someone has done that using his info? This is the rumor going around the prison, and he knows someone was in his cell going through his personal items and info. He is getting out soon and does not want it to affect him when he does
August 15, 2020
I own another house in my city that is currently vacant. I am getting Credit Cards from USBank that are used for unemployment benefits all in a different name. I have received 3 so far. I suspect that someone is applying for these cards and sending them to this address knowing that the house is vacant and plan on retrieving the cards at night from the mail box. I have been checking the mail at this house every day now so I am beating them to it. I need to report this but when you search to find out who to report it to you get different answers.
Heather M
August 17, 2020
I received a benefits card in the mail today addressed to my address, but in someone else's name. Should I be worried? Should I just "return to sender" or report it to FTC or someone else? I already cleared my credit reports, but still need to check my husband's. Thanks!
So is it possi…
August 17, 2020
So I think my cell phone was hacked and account was compramized because I went in person to take social security card and driver licence to uniploymenent office in person after certifation to give proof of I'd gave verification was told it would probably b about 2 days more it's been at least a week and still I have nothing and 0 accords my payment history can some one give me some in site. Whut to do
September 02, 2020
I notified the agencies about my identity being stolen. Now will I be able to receive my unemployment benefits
October 02, 2020
Dont know about computers. I had someone help me file unemployment. I never recieved my card. This person intercepted it or used thier address. But denies it,just bought a new car and furniture,They didnt even give me the right info to get online to contact someone.What can I do, im sure there certifying for my benefits
Michele G
October 04, 2020
I am currently receiving PAU unemployment, and received my card months ago, because my place of business is shut down due to Covid. Last week an unemployment debit card, with MY address but someone else's name, arrived at my house. Should I report this to DES? Or should I just destroy the card? I googled the name on the card and the person is deceased. I'm worried if I report fraud that it might affect MY benefits since my address was used.
October 11, 2020
My husband lost his job after 39 years at this one business due to Covid & the economy. He applied for unemployment and was denied due to his SS being linked to another account. He reported to UIA that he is a victim of theft then. We are going on 3 months with no income. They sent him a letter more or less saying that he didnt' provide the identity information that was requested 3 months before his last day of work. This is crazy, the company just up and closed their doors. He couldn't applied until after the severence was obtained. No one cares about this theft. Where does he go from here? Someone claimed UI 4 months before his last day of work. Does anyone have a suggestion for us. It seems we need a fraud case number to move on but no one will call him back. Frustrated in Michigan.
FTC Staff
March 18, 2021

In reply to by Firelassi

The steps in this blog explain what to do about identity theft.

Go go to report the fraud to the FTC. You will get an FTC Identity Theft to use when you send letters to banks, credit reporting companies and to get copies of records related to the identity theft. You will get help with the next important recovery steps.

October 12, 2020
I have a claim...however my name has been taken completely off of it and it now has some e else's name. It had their address and banking which I have been able to change back to mine but after almost a month of contacting sending documents etc. The other name remains on my claim. Last Thursday when I called I was advised that because the claim was not in my name I could not get ant information. I do not know where to turn to at this point.
October 18, 2020
I received a call on 10/17/2020 from (470)510-8757 stating, that she was with the Unemployment Office. She told me, that I didn't have but one more payment left. She told me to verify my address, then asked me about why did they put Macon city. I told her the city was Macon and I have a letter from the unemployment office. She said ok I'm going to reopen your case, but it's up to the Employer to extend the benefits. The reason I'm concerned about this is because, I received this call on a Sunday afternoon around 2:31 pm. I want to make sure this isn't a scam!
October 20, 2020
I received an Unemployment Insurance Monetary Benefit Determination from NYS Dept of Labor in the mail and I Never applied for Unemployment. Its under my maiden name my married name . I believe my Social Security # was stolen and used to apply for Unemployment without my knowledge.
October 21, 2020
The Illinois Dept of Employment Security sent a letter to my old address (and under my maiden name) saying that my benefits are pending and I need to certify the benefits, etc. I'm assuming the benefits haven't gone through but does this mean I am the victim of identity theft? Or maybe the letter itself was a scam?
October 22, 2020
I was just told my online bank account that someone committed fraud
October 23, 2020
If someone filed a fraudulent unemployment claim under my name, do I need to change all of my bank accounts and credit cards to be safe?
FTC Staff
October 23, 2020

In reply to by PL

Go to to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next important recovery steps. 

You can place a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit, get your free credit reports, and close any fraudulent accounts opened in your name. also will help you add a free extended fraud alert or credit freeze to your credit report. That makes it more difficult for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.

October 27, 2020
Same here and the debit card was delivered to my house.
October 28, 2020
My husband's name was used to file a fraudulent claim about a month before he started to file a claim for unemployment in August. He has taken all the requested steps and has heard nothing, it has been at least 8 weeks, why have we not heard back so he can file his actual claim! It is so frustrating not knowing if ANYTHING is happening. Who else can we contact to get somewhere with fixing the fraud so the benefits can be approved.
January 29, 2021

In reply to by TexasRunner

This has happened to me as well and I cant even sign in because they made up a “mother’s maiden name” and it’s saying the one I’m using is wrong! I have Emailed them called them begging for help since Aug and still nothing
October 30, 2020
Our landlord getting the housing and universal credit on my girlfriend name as he have her passport and id and he always tell her he is still doing the paperwork Is there anyway we can find out