At this point in the pandemic, unemployment levels are higher than they’ve been since the Great Depression — so it’s no surprise that many millions of Americans are weathering the storm with help from stimulus funds and unemployment benefits.
But what happens when the relief you need winds up padding a criminal’s pocket instead of your own?
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening to many out-of-work Americans. Federal agencies recently discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars have been stolen from Washington State’s unemployment fund. Investigators suspect a Nigerian crime ring known as “Scattered Canary” of orchestrating a massive attack on U.S. unemployment services. There’s evidence that several states have been targeted, including North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Florida, though all states are considered vulnerable to the risk.
It may surprise you that scammers successfully duped the government out of such large sums, but government-focused fraud such as tax-related identity theft is nothing new. With trillions of stimulus dollars now being distributed, fraudsters see another chance to cash in. Pulling from the huge catalog of personally identifiable information (PII) leaked in data breaches over the years, criminals can create convincing false claims using stolen Social Security numbers, home addresses, and other key data points that are often readily available on the dark web.
If you’re a PrivacyArmor member, we offer tools that proactively monitor your identity, so you can act quickly — now and once the pandemic has passed.
Identity protection is the first line of defense against fraud.
Keeping your personal information private is a good way to ward off any kind of identity theft. If criminals can’t access your details, they probably won’t be able to, say, file a fake unemployment claim in your name. To that end, be sure you’re setting strong passwords and sharing information smartly, both online and off.
However, if your information does wind up exposed, you’ll want to know right away so you can take steps to address the breach. That’s where identity protection comes in. If you’re a PrivacyArmor member, you have access to a variety of powerful tools and resources:
- In the PrivacyArmor portal, tap the Social Monitoring tab and connect your social media accounts. You’ll receive actionable alerts when we see questionable content on your social feeds, such as graphic material that may indicate account takeover.
- Under the Dark Web Monitoring tab, add important details, like credit card numbers. We’ll then scour the dark corners of the internet for your information and alert you to potential fraud, so you can act quickly to minimize damage.
- Under the Credit Monitoring tab, take additional preventative measures such as locking your TransUnion credit report and reviewing it for suspicious activity.
- Our Privacy Advocates are available 24/7 to help members recover from fraud. Whenever possible, they’ll make calls and file the necessary paperwork on your behalf, minimizing stress and streamlining the recovery process.
- If you become furloughed or unemployed, we make it easy to keep your identity protection benefit.
We know these unprecedented times can bring many concerns. But with us as your partner, your privacy doesn’t have to be one of them.