The COVID-19 coronavirus has been disastrous for many families as many have lost loved ones or have themselves been sick. As of this writing on May 29th, there have been 1,106 deaths and over 20,000 confirmed cases in Washington State. With our economic shut-down, many have lost jobs and sought unemployment benefits, but where there is money, there is fraud. ABC News reports that nearly 1.5 million people have filed claims for unemployment benefits in Washington, but many workers have had their personal identification information stolen over the years and that information is being used to bilk our state out of hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent unemployment claims. The state is trying
to claw it back.
As a result, many legitimate requests are delayed as our state tries to verify requests to protect from further losses. Please be on the lookout for letters from the State of Washington Employment Security Department that you did not expect. Your employer may also receive letters. If you did not file a claim for unemployment benefits, these might be an indication that someone has filed on your behalf fraudulently. NPR has a great article on this topic. Skyline Advisors has had a few clients affected by this and can help you review the security on your investment accounts. You can report unemployment fraud on the Employment Security Department website at www.esd.wa.gov.
This all started with data breaches and phishing attacks where someone in some far-off country got access to your personal information and is using it to steal money.
If you would like information about preventing or responding to a data breach, please check out our resource documents here: