TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Identity theft crime is on the rise not just in our state but nationwide. Millions of unemployment claims are being investigated here in Arizona.
“Somehow my information was used to file a claim in Michigan. I’ve never lived in Michigan,” said LeeAnne Long, a fraud victim.
She said she’s never been a victim of fraud, until she filed for unemployment six months ago.
“This claim was filed May 24th using my identity, filed in Michigan. I filed May 10th in Arizona. I’m worried because I don’t know how Michigan got my information to begin with,” Long said.
She became more suspicious when she called the fraud support number on the form, and a voice recording directed her to a website.
“What concerned me is they were asking for more identification like my social security, so I got scared. Is this a scam are they going to get more information than they already have on me,” said Long.
Right now, over three million claims are being investigated for fraud by The Arizona Department of Economic Security. Officials said they received over one million suspected fraud claims in a span of 3 weeks.
“There’s so many hackers out there and so many scams going on,” Long added.
Several arrests have been made in connection to unemployment claim fraud in Arizona since the department implemented a task force last month cracking down on scammers.
Initial claimants will now have to go through ID.me to verify their identity before receiving benefits.
DES urges victims to call their hotline at 1-800-251-2436 if you suspect you’re a fraud victim.
“I felt really glad that Arizona has a hotline where someone actually picks up the phone and not directed to a website,” Long said.
You may also submit a claim through the Federal Trade Commission’s website https://www.ftc.gov/
Officials said claims could take weeks up to months due to the backlog across the country.
Scammers could face two years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines per fraudulent claim.