In recent weeks, the United States Secret Service has received reports of fraud targeting State Unemployment Insurance programs. Banks and Credit Unions have experienced a rise in automatic electronic deposits from State Unemployment Insurance Programs. These deposits range from $4,000 to $10,000. To make these fraudulent deposits, scammers reach out to individuals using various tactics to get personal information including account and routing numbers.
Common tactics used include:
• Scammers pretending to be a close friend, family member, boyfriend, or girlfriend, residing out of state, who need your account details to receive unemployment benefits because they do not have access to their own bank.
• Scammers impersonating the State Unemployment office. The scammer will say you received the payment in error and must return the money immediately and ask for account details.
• Scammers also have asked individuals to withdraw money and send it back in the form of gift cards, cash, official bank checks, money orders and wire transfers. Unlike a check, which financial institutions often put holds on to ensure the check will clear, electronic deposits do not commonly have holds, providing targeted individuals full access to unauthorized funds immediately. Since funds are unauthorized, financial institutions are required to return the money. If a member has taken that money out of their account before the funds can be returned to the State, the member may be responsible for the full amount of money taken. If the money has been sent to a scammer through wire or gift cards, you may not get that money back.
To protect yourself from this scam, consider the following tips:
• If someone asks for personal information through email, text, or over the phone, including your account and routing number, do not provide it. Real financial institutions will already have your account information if they initiated contact with you.
• Verify where the person lives and works. Do they actually live or work in the state where their unemployment benefits are coming from?
• If someone asks you to send money via gift card, cash, or wire transfer money, do not do it. These methods are non-refundable are some of the most common ways a scammer asks you to send money.