holmes 02192020CM0068AURORA – Nationwide, scammers are targeting those receiving unemployment benefits at this difficult economic time exacerbated by to the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) warns area residents who haven't applied for unemployment benefits but receive a debit card claiming to provide benefits that they could be the target of a scam.

“It’s shocking in the midst of these crises to learn scammers are targeting vulnerable residents and their unemployment benefits,” Holmes said. “To bring scammers to justice, IDES is aggressively pursuing fraudsters filing false claims.”

Recently, individuals began receiving KeyBank debit cards and unemployment letters in the mail, without having applied for benefits. IDES warns that people who received these erroneous mailings may be targets of fraud.  

IDES launched an investigation into what appears to be a nationwide fraud scheme targeting applicants to the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. IDES said ambiguous federal guidelines—developed hastily to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic—leave PUA claimants open to attack. IDES maintains this scheme is not connected to the PUA program access issue experienced in May.

An IDES team is working directly with individuals whose identities are being used or have possibly been stolen. The department is also working with local and federal law enforcement authorities to pursue and prosecute those committing fraud.

“If you have received a debit card in the mail without applying for benefits, you should not activate them,” Holmes said. “IDES urges you to call them immediately at 1-800-814-0513 to report identity theft. 

Online, you can use the IDES Contact Form. On the drop down, select the option, “UI Fraud/Identity Theft". Complete the required fields and DO NOT include social security numbers or other personal identifiable information in the comment section. Be sure to include an email address so that you will receive an autoreply providing important information and steps you can take while you wait to hear back from them. 

Victims of fraud should also check their credit reports for possible suspicious activity, post a fraud alert and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for helpful tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft.