Unemployment benefits taken out in woman’s name - WNEM TV 5

Unemployment benefits taken out in woman’s name

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A local woman said she was lucky enough to be able to leave her job to become a stay-at-home mom last fall.

So, when her former employer called her in January questioning why she was collecting unemployment the alarm bells immediately started going off.

“Terrified. Who’s doing this? Why,” Ashley Moultrup said.

A million things started racing through Moultrup’s mind when she got that call.

Her former employer told her they had received a letter from the Unemployment Insurance Agency saying they had paid about $1,800 to an Ashley Moultrup over the last few months.

The only problem was the real Ashley Moultrup left her job back in September.

Chris Dewitt, spokesman for the Unemployment Insurance Agency, said the state and even the nation have seen a huge uptick in fraudulent unemployment filings and false tax returns.

He said the vast majority are tied to the recent data breaches - like the one at Equifax -where criminals get their hands on names, birthdays, addresses and social security numbers.

“What the criminals are doing taking that information, they’re either using it themselves or selling it to another criminal,” Dewitt said.

When it comes to fraudulent unemployment filings, Dewitt said most of the time fake claims are caught before being paid out. If you’re affected, the Unemployment Insurance Agency will send you a letter – or in most cases, your employer will contact you.

Dewitt said the state agency is working with law enforcement agencies to try and catch the thieves, but it can be really tough.

“We are working with law enforcement at state and federal level to try to catch these folks and it is difficult because in some instances they’re not even in this country,” Dewitt said.

You can protect yourself by guarding your social security number, not responding to unsolicited requests for personal information and reviewing your credit report at least once a year.

Moultrup said even though the payments have stopped, it still gives her an uneasy feeling.

“It’s scary just to know that somebody’s out there pretending to be you,” Moultrup said.

The investigation is ongoing.

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