LOCAL NEWS

Washington holding unemployment payments 1-2 days after fraud attempts

May 14, 2020, 5:55 PM | Updated: May 15, 2020, 10:46 am

The Washington Employment Security Department has seen an increase in fraud attempts in which “bad actors” have stolen personal information and used it to apply for unemployment benefits.

“Since the start of May – and particularly in the past week – the Employment Security Department has seen a significant rise in reports of impostor fraud,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine.

The personal information of Washingtonians is being stolen from sources outside the agency, LeVine said, and being used to then apply for benefits.

“To be clear – Employment Security has not had a breach of our system and no data has been taken from our agency,” LeVine added.

LeVine assured in a statement that the agency has controls in place to prevent, identify, and block fraud. This, unfortunately, is not a new event, though there has been a rise in reports of imposter fraud.

“Many Washingtonians did not know their information had been stolen in the past, and this situation has only illuminated that fact as fraudsters attempt to get unemployment benefits in Washingtonians’ names,” LeVine said.

Imposter fraud is not only hitting Washington state, as reports are surfacing across the country of similar situations. Criminals are taking advantage of the crisis and the additional benefits being offered right now, LeVine said.

The ESD announced it will be increasing the number of agents on the fraud hotline, hiring more fraud investigators, cross matching data with other state agencies and across the country to detect fraud activity, and working with the U.S. Department of Labor to both detect and prevent fraud cases.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are also holding payments for an additional 1-2 days this week so we can validate claims as authentic. We apologize for the hardship this may cause for valid claimants,” LeVine said.

“We are constantly evaluating our processes and systems to ensure we can pay benefits as quickly as possible to those who are qualified while not creating more opportunity for imposter fraud,” she added.

Washington unemployment filings dip, but still at record levels

If you believe you have been a victim of imposter fraud, visit this website and report it immediately.

The Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft website has a current, detailed, step-by-step process for reporting and protecting people from further victimization, and the Washington State Attorney General has tips for recovering from identity theft or fraud here.

If someone is a victim of unemployment imposter fraud, they will not have to replay the money, and they will still be able to apply for benefits if they need to do so. The ESD will only contact you from the esd.wa.gov domain, and only ask people to provide information on its website at esd.wa.gov.

“This is such a difficult and unprecedented time, and unfortunately criminals use situations like these to try and gain advantage,” LeVine said. “While our agency is working around the clock to quickly get benefits out to Washingtonians who need them, we also are maintaining vigilance and taking action to combat fraudulent activities so we may pay out legitimate claims and block those who seek to do harm.”

Local News

(KIRO 7)...
KIRO 7 News Staff

35 Marysville teachers receive layoff notices after voters reject levy extensions

Thirty-five teachers in the Marysville School District received layoff notices last week, after voters rejected levy measures that would have funded 14-18% of the district’s overall budget.
1 day ago
...
Gwen Baumgardner

Car thefts are on the rise in the region

In Seattle, there have been 2,075 vehicle thefts already this year. Seattle police reported that approximately 86% of stolen cars are recovered.
2 days ago
Kirkland, WA (Getty Images)...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Tax hikes to join booming property values in East King County

Property values in select cities in East King County have skyrocketed, leading King County Assessor John Wilson to warn homeowners about noticeable increases in property taxes.
2 days ago
Pike Place...
MyNorthwest Staff

Enraged Pike Place motorist pleads not guilty to assault with a motor vehicle charges

A man arrested for an assault stemming from a Pike Place incident pleads not guilty in King County Superior Court.
3 days ago
tukwila...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

Prolific Seattle-area smash-and-grab ATM thieves formerly arrested for murder

60 robberies involving trucks driving into local stores to steal ATMs and cash registers may be solved with the arrest of two men at a Tukwila motel Friday morning.
3 days ago
schools...
Dalton Day

Rival to First Student exposes Seattle Schools’ fumbled bidding war

First Student's competition has accused Seattle Public Schools of “arbitrarily and improperly” awarding a district contract to First Student.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Washington holding unemployment payments 1-2 days after fraud attempts