AGC chapters and members should be aware that fraudulent unemployment claims are on the rise. While this has been a problem throughout the pandemic and while the construction industry is not a unique target, many AGC members have reported experiencing such claims and some have reported a spike in recent weeks.
The problem has spread across the country. States – which are largely overwhelmed with both legitimate and illegitimate unemployment claims due to the pandemic – are each responding in their own ways, but the federal government has also taken some action. On April 14, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued new guidance to states on identity verification for unemployment insurance claims. DOL said that the guidance “will help states find and stop payments on claims based on stolen or fake identities and help unemployed workers who have been falsely flagged as possibly fraudulent” and that it “also explains what states can do to protect those victims who may have had their identities previously stolen and then used by criminals to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.” Three weeks earlier, DOL launched a new website to assist such victims. The website explains how to determine if you’re a victim of unemployment identity theft and how to report such identity theft. A Spanish translation of the website is also available. Last July, the FBI also issued an alert.
AGC members may want to inform their employees of the possibility of unemployment identity theft and provide a link to the DOL website for victims. An article published by the law firm Baker Donelson offers additional tips for employers that members might find useful.
AGC will keep an eye on this issue and provide info about any significant developments on a national level.