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Voice of the consumer: Protect yourself from identity theft during rampant unemployment insurance fraud

11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.
11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.(KKTV)
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 8:32 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - There is one scam that has been flooding the phone lines for the statewide consumer helpline all throughout the pandemic. Unemployment insurance fraud has skyrocketed over the past year. The experts tell me they believe there have been more than 1.2 million fraudulent unemployment insurance benefit claims filed in Colorado alone.

I have heard from so many of you about this during the pandemic. A lot of times you find out you were the victim of this fraud by getting a 1099 form in the mail that has your name on it from the IRS. Or if you go to file for unemployment, you find out someone else already tried to get benefits in your name.

This week, I’m turning to the Colorado attorney general to talk about the problem and find out what’s being done on the national level.

“So, we have a task force that we set up in our office across our state,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “We’re looking down every lead with get. So please go to the Department of Labor and Employment, file complaints if you know that someone is trying to scam you or scam your company. We can then pick up those leads and go after people criminally for this wrongdoing.”

I talked with Weiser during our weekly “Fraud Friday” segment. KKTV 11 News is teaming up with AARP Elderwatch and the Attorney General’s Office for the weekly interview that airs during 11 News at Noon.

“The first point I would always tell people is please, please, don’t give out your personal information,” he said. “No one is going to call you up who is legitimate and ask you for your Social Security number. Please don’t give out personal information about you over the phone.”

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft. Be careful about calls, text messages or emails asking to share personal information. Watch for scammers trying to get personal information to file fraudulent claims. Make sure you don’t click any links in emails or texts.

Keep in mind, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) will never send you a text message to log into your account. You should only access your account by using the official CDLE website at ColoradoUI.gov.

If you are the victim of unemployment fraud, you should contact the three consumer credit bureaus and put a fraud alert, or credit freeze, on your name and Social Security number. You can reach the credit bureaus at the following numbers: Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, Experian: 1-888-397-3742 and TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289.

If you received a U.S. Bank ReliaCard debit card that you did not apply for, you should reach out to the company to deactivate the card. You can report a card to their fraud department online at usbankreliacard.com.

You should also report it to the Colorado Department of Labor. You can find out more information on their website or by calling (303) 318-8000.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.

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