During any crisis, there are those who seek to take advantage of it. That is again the case with COVID-19.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a surge of unemployment claims. Unfortunately, there has also been an increase in the number of fraudulent claims in Illinois and across the country. In fact, during just the last few weeks, we have seen claims filed for nearly 15 worksite employees who are employed and working normally.
Criminals sense an overloaded system as an opportunity. They use it to gain social security numbers and then hope an overwhelmed agency will process claims without proper validation. What is notable about this trend is not just the increased frequency; it’s that victims are typically experienced individuals with higher salaries. It’s a frightening situation, but you don’t have to combat it alone. As an HR expert, Synergy is vigilant when it comes to scams like this.
Because of our role in HR, it’s our duty to bring this to your attention and give you direction forward. Firstly, whenever Synergy receives a notice for an unemployment claim, we always investigate to ensure that the person in question was in fact terminated. We also stay in communication with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and any other applicable local agencies on each case, reporting any claim we identify as fraudulent.
Secondly, there are important steps you can take as an employer. Based on our conversations with IDES, if you identify that an employee has been the victim of a fraudulent unemployment claim, we recommend you:
Furthermore, and in an effort to prevent these fraudulent unemployment claims from going too far, the FBI recommends that you and your employees stay on the lookout for the following types of suspicious activity:
We know that it’s a challenging time period and that this is likely just one of many concerns for your company. It can be easy to feel fatigued, but putting effort into the above steps will help protect your business and employees from the threat of fraudulent unemployment claims.