Unemployment Scams and How to Avoid Them

Common Unemployment Related Scams, and Advice on Recognizing and Avoiding These Scams

Scammers use a variety of methods to prey on unemployed workers who are enduring difficulties after having lost their jobs, and may be more susceptible to scams because of the financial pressure. Below are some of the more common unemployment related scams, and how to avoid them.

Scam Emails

Scammers may send official looking emails appearing to be from your government's unemployment office or from the bank who issued your UI debit card. The emails will ask you to send personal information or to download an attached document which will contain malicious software. These emails also often link to phishing websites (see below) designed to trick you into entering sensitive info. The "Sender" field of the email could be faked to appear to be a legitimate address.

Avoid this by never opening and replying to suspicious unsolicited email messages. Many state UI portals and an inbox for communication and a section to upload documents so check there. Unemployment Offices will also often send official correspondence by mail rather than email. If you have doubts about the authenticity of an email you can try and contacting your state's unemployment office by phone to verify any details. Do not use phones listed in the email itself, rather locate the phone from the state agency's official website. Do not click on any links in the email. If you accidentally do click or download any attachments, immediately run an anti-virus and malware scan on your computer and change your passwords. You should always make sure your anti-virus software is up to date, as some of them can warn you

Phishing Website

Scammers work hard in copying an official website and making the fake website look like the real one. For example, scammers can create a fake website that looks like your state's unemployment office and ask you to submit a form there, after which they will have stolen your personal information; Or you be asked to activate your Bank of America EDD debit card and be taken to a fake Bank of America site look-a-like, and after you enter all your card information to "activate" the card, your funds will be stolen.

These links are often distributed through fake emails, but can also appear on other websites that have been hacked. The best way to avoid them is to never click on links in any emails and instead type the address of the official site directly in the browser. For example if you received an email from the EDD which you suspect is fake, don't click on any link in there but instead open your browser and type "edd.ca.gov" directly. Or if you get an email from Bank of America and you want to log in to your account, don't do it through any links in the email, instead type "bankofamerica.com" into your browser and proceed through there.

If you realize entered your username and password at a phishing website, you should change it immediately before it can be used by the scammers. You should also change it in all other websites that use the same password. In general, it is recommended you don't use the same password for multiple websites. Where available, you should also enable two-factor authentication.

Fake Texts

While some states send text alerts, you will never be asked to submit sensitive information via a text message. If you receive a text message asking for such information such as account numbers or SSNs, it is a fake message designed to steal your data. Never click on the links in the messages.

Recently, UnemploymentPUA.com received reports of a text many people received from the EDD which contained a shortened "bit.ly" link. While we were able to confirm that the text message was authentic, we still do recommend using caution and accessing official websites by typing their address directly in the browser rather than clicking on any links whether in texts or emails.

Fake Job Offers

Since you are unemployed and looking for a job, you may be susceptible to fake job offers in which you will be asked to submit personal and sensitive information and will use that info to steal your identity. Another variation of the fake job offer is that the scammers tell you that you were hired for the job, but send you a fake check as salary or to buy equipment, and they ask you to wire them some money back. The check turns out to be fake, and any money you wired to the scammers is gone.

MLM/Forex/Work-at-Home/Pyramid and Other Get-Rich-Quick scams

Unemployed workers who are having financial difficulties could be lured with "get rich quick" business opportunities, often involving Multi-Level-Marketing, Forex, and Pyramid Schemes. The scammer will tempt you with the promise of getting rich quick and making thousands of dollars or more a month, but often the only person getting rich from these schemes is the scammer itself. We recommend avoiding such unsolicited opportunities.

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