Labor officials warn of unemployment insurance phishing scams

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 5:00pm

    AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Labor is warning unemployment claimants and adding extra security measures to protect beneficiaries from fraudulent email phishing scams in which bad actors steal usernames and passwords, use them to log into unemployment accounts, and change the payment information.

    The Department was notified by the U.S. Department of Labor of scams happening across the country and is taking proactive action to review and prevent impact on Maine claimants, and has also received reports of phishing attempts in Maine, according to a news release. 

    Some phishing attempts mimicked the Maine Department of Labor and provided a link to reset a password.

    The Department will never send a password reset email that wasn’t requested by the individual, per a news release. If someone did not request a reset and receives one of these emails, they should immediately delete the email and not respond.

    Claimants log-in information could also be potentially obtained by criminals if someone uses the same log-in information for multiple websites and that log-in information is compromised. The Department strongly recommends that claimants use a password that is unique to their unemployment account and is not used for anything else.

    “The Department wants to ensure that unemployment benefits go to eligible Maine people and not to criminals,” Commissioner Laura Fortman said. “Maine, along with other unemployment insurance programs across the country and in cooperation with law enforcement partners, is continuing to investigate fraudulent activity and put measures in place to prevent it.”

    The Department continues to evolve its fraud prevention techniques and is adding extra authentication technology to the ReEmployME system. The Department is temporarily holding several hundred claims while awaiting additional verification from the individuals. Individuals whose claims are on hold will be notified by email to call 1-800-593-7660 for further guidance.

    What unemployment claimants should do to protect themselves:

    Before filing their next weekly certification, they should go to Benefits Maintenance > Payment Options to verify their current payment information and update as needed.

    Click on the link in Benefits Maintenance to verify their email address. This will generate an email with instructions on how to complete the process.

    After verifying their email, the Department recommends changing their password to one that is not being used in any other online system. They will need to verify their email account before creating a new password by hitting “forgot password” on the log-in page. This will also generate an email within which they will need to click on a link. Passwords should not be shared with anyone.

    Unsolicited emails about resetting passwords should be immediately deleted.

    If unemployment benefit payments for prior weeks filed appear to have been redirected to a bank account that is not theirs, they should contact the Department.