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Scammers are filching unemployment funds

With so many people filing for coronavirus-related unemployment insurance, local accountant Camillia Garcia is warning of a scam that hit one of her clients this month.

The client, a legal services sub-contractor, learned recently that someone had filed an unemployment claim in her name on March 20, Garcia says. The scammer used a different address and bank account number than the client’s to divert the unemployment checks.

The client, who is both the employer and sole employee of her business, did not learn of the scammer’s work until April 7. That’s when she received a routine letter the Department of Workforce Solutions sends to employers to verify an employee insurance claim. The client had never filed such a claim.

She had had her identity stolen, although that was about two years ago, Garcia said.

Workforce Solutions is familiar with this type of scam and has “measures in place to detect such activity,” says spokeswoman Stacy Johnston. “There is a fraud unit that works these types of scams on a regular basis.”

The department’s fraud hotline is 505-243-7283.

Cases have been reported nationwide by people who filed for unemployment, only to find their claim was considered a duplicate because someone else had filed in their name.

“Many of the individuals we’re helping are filing for unemployment insurance for the very first time,” Bill McCamley, New Mexico Workforce Solutions secretary, said in a news release. “Please be cautious of scammers trying to take advantage of the situation.”

If you are a victim of duplicate filling, call the department’s Unemployment Insurance Operations Center at 1-877-664-6984. The department can put a hold on a payment while it investigates.

Know that there is no fee to file for compensation, nor will Workforce Solutions ask for your debit card or any other type of payment. If someone calls and says they’re a representative of the department, do not give them information.

Also, watch for fake websites that claim they can help you file a claim. Use only the official website at www.jobs.state.nm.us. And one more warning: If you get an email asking that you complete an online survey for the state, don’t do it.

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Add more scams to the long list of those involving the IRS. This time, they center on the stimulus, or economic impact, payments that are going to individuals to help blunt coronavirus-related losses.

The IRS is warning about an expected surge in calls, online phishing attempts and texts in which fraudsters try to acquire personal information.

They might insist that you verify information before the check goes out or suggest that they can help you receive your benefit faster, the IRS says.

Also watch for bogus checks in the mail, perhaps in an odd amount, telling you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210​.

 

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