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Texas Workforce Commission sees increase in fraudulent unemployment claims during disaster

Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 6:44 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Texas Workforce Commission says they see a dramatic increase in the number of fraudulent unemployment claims filed during a disaster.

Identify theft is a $6 billion enterprise— A Nacogdoches resident has become the latest victim after their personal information was used by someone filing a false claim. As police work to solve that case, KTRE’s T’Ebonie Tanner learned about ways to help keep your identity from being stolen.

“Identify theft is when your personal information is used, such as your social security number, your date of birth, your name, your address and your phone number,” said Sargent Brett Ayers with the Nacogdoches Police Department.

A fraud report was filed after a resident received a letter from the Texas Workforce Commission about a claim for unemployment benefits. Their identity was stolen for profit.

“Some of the ways that we see persons become a victim of identity theft are through the mail, through the telephone and through the computer,” said Ayers. “We tell our citizens that if you’re going to be going out of town have the post office hold your mail and don’t have them deliver it until you get back. If you’re paying bills and you have outgoing mail that has personal information, don’t put it in the curbside mailbox; take it to your local post office.”

Texas Workforce Commission’s Public Relations spokesman Cisco Gamez says when disaster insurance is made available the commission sees an increase in identity theft claims.

“Since January 2020, we have identified, confirmed, and locked over 3,500 identity theft fraudulent claims. Compared to the 4.7 million claims we have received since the weekend of March 14th this year,” said Gamez. “Right now with COVID-19, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of unemployment insurance claims.”

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, here are the steps you need to take— monitor your credit report for any open accounts that you’re unfamiliar with, contact your local law enforcement agency and file a police report.

For more information on how you can call the TWC Fraud Hotline at 800-252-3642. You can also report fraud on the TWC homepage— go to our website ktre.com, scroll down and click on the link in the Big Red Box.

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