How to Protect Yourself from Information Scammers

4 common unemployment scams to be aware of

A new report finds that billions of dollars in unemployment-related fraud is taking place as the economy recovers and unemployment levels continue to decline.

Scammers are both applying for unemployment benefits under other peoples' names, and scamming victims who have already received government assistance. Here are four common unemployment scams being reported.

Identity Theft

Scammers apply for unemployment benefits using another person's identity. They do this after obtaining personal information such as your full name, address, and social security number in order to submit a fraudulent claim. Victims are typically unaware until they get denied when applying for their own unemployment benefits or realize they were being taxed on the benefits they never received.

How to Avoid: Do not share personal information with anyone you meet online. Avoid adding personal details to social media accounts or elsewhere online.

Catfishing Scams

During COVID-19, many victims reported being tricked into sending their unemployment benefits to scammers who initiated romantic relationships with them via dating apps or social media sites. Often these cybercriminals create fake profiles in order to "catfish" vulnerable users; once the victim’s trust is gained, the scammer begins asking for money and/or personal details.

How to Avoid: Do not send explicit photos, personal details, or money to anyone you do not know. If the person will not meet face-to-face or via video chat, they are likely a scammer. 


Cybercriminals often create VoIP phone numbers (a real telephone number assigned to a user, but not to a specific phone line) that makes it seem like the caller is dialing from their state unemployment office. They ask victims to pay a small fee and verify personal information in order to continue receiving their unemployment benefits.  The scammer then pockets that fee and uses the personal information to gain access to the victim's bank account.

How to Avoid: If a company or agency calls you asking for information, hang up and look up the number they're calling from before dialing back yourself to ensure you are speaking with an employee of a verifiable organization.

Investment Fraud

Scammers are targeting people receiving unemployment benefits with fake investment opportunities and get-rich-quick schemes. They often advertise on social media promising large returns with little risk by requesting Bitcoin, gift cards, or wire transfers—which are harder to trace—and email phishing links to try obtain sensitive information for malicious use when clicked.

How to Avoid: Do not give any money or information to someone seeking an investment until you have thoroughly vetted them.

If you believe you are the victim of an unemployment scam, report it through the Department of Labor.

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