Unemployment Benefits Fraud and Identity Theft
(Updated May 29, 2020 - Employment Security Department has developed a form and specific website due to the volume of reporting)
Washington state has identified an abnormally high rate of fraudulent unemployment claims. As an employer of the state, we are providing the following information and resources for staff to protect your personal information, should you feel it necessary to do so. If the district receives a report (as an employer) we will contact the employee immediately. However, some reports we have received are from employees who received a letter in the mail from the Employment Security Department alerting them they have applied for self-employment benefits. The following recommendations have been released by the Seattle Police Department cyber-crime investigators. These steps are recommended for anyone who knows, or believes, they are a victim of unemployment fraud.
Step One - Contact Human Resources by emailing Pam Hiles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step Two - Contact Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) in one of the following ways.
- By Phone: 800-246-9763
During your call, you will need to verify your identify by providing your last four (4) digits of Social Security Number (SSN), Date of Birth, Address and Phone Number
- Online: Use the online reporting form with ESD: (Updated May 29, 2020)
- https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployment-benefits-fraud (Select "Fraud Reporting Form")
Step Three - Consider filing a police report - online or non-emergency report with the agency whose jurisdiction you live in. They will provide you with a case number for your report. Keep this in your files.
Step Four - You can also report any potential identity theft to the federal government with the Federal Trade Commission here: https://www.identitytheft.gov/
Step Five - Obtain your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at Annual Credit Report or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Report to the credit bureaus that the fraudulent claim was made using your identity and provide them with the case number from your police report. You can have a fraud alert put on your identity.
- A fraud alert is free and will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That bureau must tell the other two credit bureaus.
Step Six - Create a file and keep your notes, contacts and other information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there anything I can do proactively to see if someone is attempting to apply for unemployment benefits using my social security number?
A way to prevent future claims for those who are not yet victims is to create a personal Secure Access Washington (SAW) account and connect it to the Employment Security Department. SAW is a portal to access several different types of state resources, one of which being Employment Security (ESD). If you have ever applied for your driver's license online, you created and used a SAW account. This can be used to check previous quarterly wages as well as file for unemployment compensation.
Someone told me I should freeze my credit. What does that mean?
If you do not have upcoming large purchases, such as a home, you may consider a freeze to your credit for additional protection. Learn more at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's website here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs
- By Phone: 800-246-9763