UI Fraud & Identity Theft
The Department of Labor works very hard to protect the integrity of our agency and programs. To combat and stop unemployment insurance (UI) fraud and identity theft, we work actively alongside local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, government agencies, claimants, and employers in New York State and around the country.
Fraudsters use real New Yorkers’ identities — likely stolen during previous data breaches involving institutions like banks, insurance companies and major employers — to file fraudulent UI claims and illegally collect benefits in the name of individuals who are not unemployed.
Unemployment insurance fraud rings often target New Yorkers who are employed and not collecting UI benefits because those individuals are less likely to have an active claim. The presence of an active claim would prevent the criminals from filing a fraudulent claim for that same person. People who work in health care, education, government and non-profits have been particularly impacted by UI fraud and should remain especially vigilant.
We encourage you to help us by reporting allegations of fraud. If you receive official communication from NYS DOL regarding UI benefits that you did not apply for, you may be a victim of UI benefits fraud and identity theft. Official communication includes, but is not limited to, emails, text messages, letters, debit cards, and tax forms received in the mail. You should immediately report suspected UI fraud to NYS DOL.
After Reporting Fraud
After reporting suspected fraud through NYS DOL’s online form, you will receive an email confirmation that NYS DOL has received the report. NYS DOL will only call you if our Office of Special Investigations needs more information about the reported fraud. Once a report is filed, NYS DOL immediately shuts down the fraudulent claim and no more benefits are paid. Due to strategies already employed, most fraud is stopped before the first dollar is paid.
You should also take steps to proactively protect yourself from identity theft:
- Change passwords, logins, and PINs for online accounts, especially bank accounts;
- Place a free fraud alert on accounts with the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax);
- Get a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com;
- File a report with your local police department; and
- Report a misused Social Security number.
It is very likely that you may receive additional mail, emails, text messages, and/or a debit card after the report has been filed. While fraudulent claims are stopped immediately, the communication, printing, and mailing process may continue for weeks or months later. You do not need to send a report for each piece of communication received.
Please note: NYS DOL ensures that fraudulent claims are stopped and that the unemployment fraud is investigated. Most other elements of fraud cases are investigated and prosecuted by federal, state and local law enforcement and other government agencies.
NYS DOL uses ID.me’s secure online technology to verify the identity of unemployment insurance (UI) applicants. This new tool allows New Yorkers to safely and efficiently submit their identity documentation as needed by the DOL.
To complete ID.me verification, applicants will receive an email, text message, or letter to the email address, phone number, or mailing address submitted with their application for unemployment benefits. Even if an applicant has already submitted identification documents through the previous method, they should still follow the directions to submit these documents again via ID.me. This new process will expedite the time it takes to get eligible benefits.
All ID.me emails will come from the email address [email protected], and text messages will come from 468-311.
If you are not applying for unemployment benefits, you should not go through the ID.me process of verifying your identity for NYS DOL. Victims of unemployment fraud may receive communication about ID.me – this should be disregarded unless you are also applying for unemployment benefits. To report identity theft, please go to https://on.ny.gov/uifraud.
Protect Your Information
In addition to filing fraudulent claims, fraudsters have been caught attempting to hack personal NY.gov accounts, lift sensitive information, and obtain driver's license information. Follow these tips to protect your private information and protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.
Observe password safety best practices with your NY.gov account:
- Choose a strong password or passphrase
- Avoid reusing passwords
- Update your password regularly
- Do not share your password or PIN with anyone
Use only trusted devices to access your account. Password-protect your home internet and only connect to well-known or reputable WiFi hotspots if you’re in public.
Protect Your Credit
Consider freezing your credit.
A credit freeze is the best way you can protect against an identity thief opening new accounts in your name. We recommend setting up a free credit freeze if an identity thief has used your information to claim unemployment insurance benefits.
A credit freeze:
- Stops most access to your credit report unless you lift or remove it.
- Is free to place and remove.
- Lasts until you lift or remove it.
- Will require you to take a few extra steps the next time you apply for credit.
Set a credit freeze by contacting each of the three national credit bureaus.
Credit bureau contact information:
Email, Text Messages & Social Media
NYS DOL uses emails, text messages and social media to communicate with claimants throughout the application process and benefit period. Some fraudsters are posing as NYS DOL through fraudulent emails, text messages, and social media accounts to prey on New Yorkers who need assistance. Refer to the following tips about communication from NYS DOL.
NYS DOL uses email to provide updates, allow claimants to certify for backdated benefits, provide reemployment services, and more.
To avoid becoming a victim of fraud, double-check the email address from all emails you receive. If an email appears fraudulent, it may be – look out for misspellings, suspicious links and unusual messaging. If you are unsure if an email is from us, reach out to NYS DOL to confirm.
Find out more about DocuSign emails from NYS DOL.
NYS DOL uses text messages to provide updates and allow claimants to certify for backdated benefits.
Text messages from NYS DOL will only come via DocuSign or from the numbers 468-311 or 22751.
Watch out for SMShing attempts where fraudsters use text messages to lure you into calling back a fraudulent phone number, visiting fraudulent websites, or downloading malicious content via phone or web.
DOL representatives will never reach out directly through a text message. Additionally, New York State will not text you asking for your driver's license information or asking you to confirm driver's license information. If someone asks for this information or claims to be a DOL agent over text, block that number and alert NYS DOL.
Find out more about DocuSign text messages from NYS DOL.
NYS DOL uses social media to provide updates and answer questions.
Never give your Social Security number over social media. NYS DOL agents and chatbots will never ask for this information through social media.
Double-check all social media accounts before interacting with them to confirm you are interacting with our verified accounts. Block and report any other accounts that follow or interact with you and purport to be NYS DOL.
The only verified social media accounts associated with NYS DOL are the following:
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did I receive a debit card or letter saying I qualified for unemployment insurance benefits when I never applied?
If you received official communication from NYS DOL regarding unemployment benefits that you did not apply for, you may be a victim of UI fraud and identity theft. Official communication includes, but is not limited to, emails, text messages, letters, debit cards, and tax forms received in the mail.
If you receive any of the above, you should immediately report it to NYS DOL at on.ny.gov/uifraud.
I reported to the NYS DOL that someone else applied in my name but I’m still receiving letters from NYS DOL about my “claim.” What should I do?
You will likely receive additional mail, emails, and/or text messages after your fraud report has been filed. While fraudulent claims are stopped, the communication, printing and mailing process may continue for weeks or months later. You do not need to send a report for each piece of communication you receive.
I tried to file for unemployment benefits but was told I already have a claim - even though I have never filed before. What should I do?
If someone has filed a prior claim in your name and you need to file for unemployment benefits, call our Telephone Claims Center at 888-209-8124.
I am not a victim of identity theft, but I have received mail from NYS DOL for another person. What should I do?
Official communication from NYS DOL sent to the wrong address or unclaimed mail from NYS DOL may be signs of unemployment fraud. If you see this, please report it to NYS DOL at on.ny.gov/uifraud.
Will I be issued a 1099-G tax form if I was the victim of fraud, even if DOL was able to stop the claim?
You may receive a 1099-G for benefits claimed using your Social Security number. If the Department has already identified the fraud, we take steps to remove your Social Security number from the claim. However, if you do receive a 1099-G form because unemployment benefits were fraudulently collected using your Social Security number, you should file a Request for 1099-G Review. NYS DOL will send you a revised form showing that you did not collect unemployment benefits.
Employers' Role in Combating UI Fraud
In order to begin paying UI benefits, NYS DOL must confirm eligibility with a claimant’s employer. As such, employers in New York State may be the first to know if unemployment fraud has been committed.
Employers should look out for and report any of the following, as they may be signs of UI fraud and/or identity theft:
- NYS DOL inquiring about a current employee who is not unemployed
- NYS DOL inquiring about a former employee who has not become unemployed within the past five annual quarters
- Missing, incorrect, or suspicious information in a claim
Report suspected UI fraud to NYS DOL’s Office of Special Investigations.
Other Forms of Fraud
In addition to identity theft, there are other forms of fraud against the New York State Department of Labor. To help protect the integrity of the agency and programs, New Yorkers are encouraged to report allegations of fraud in any of the following areas. All reports can be made anonymously.
Individual UI Benefits Fraud
UI benefits fraud is committed by people who:
- Claim UI benefits that they know they are not entitled to
- Help others claim benefits they are not entitled to
Some examples of UI benefits fraud include:
- Providing false information or failing to disclose information on your application for benefits, including lying about how you lost your job
- Working while collecting unemployment benefits and inaccurately reporting your days and earnings
- Working any amount of time in a week while collecting benefits and telling us you did not work
- Earning more than $504 from employers in one week where benefits are collected and not correctly reporting true total earnings for that week
- Failing to be ready, willing and able to work (e.g., out of the area, on vacation, sick, suffering total disability) while collecting UI benefits
- Working "off the books" while collecting benefits
- Using another person's identity (e.g., name, Social Security number) to file fraudulent claims
- Helping another person file a false unemployment insurance claim
- Collaborating with an employer to illegally claim unemployment insurance benefits
Employer UI Fraud
Employers commit UI fraud when they:
- Pay "off the books" or "under the table" wages
- Shift workers between employer payrolls to use a lower UI contribution rate
- Misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying UI contributions. Misclassification occurs if an employer treats people as independent contractors when they are employees. Some employers use this tactic to avoid compliance with:
- Unemployment insurance (UI) contributions
- Workers' Compensation insurance
Misclassifying workers and paying workers off the books can have a severe impact on workers and employers in industries where the practice prevails. The Department of Labor works together with other state agencies and the Attorney General to stop this practice. See more information about employer UI fraud.
Misconduct by State Employee or Person Doing Business with NYS
The NYS Office of the Inspector General investigates alleged corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest or abuse by a State employee or a person doing business with the State.
- The giving or receiving of bribes or unlawful gifts
- Theft or misuse of State property or funds
- Conflicts of interest
Call toll-free 800-DO-RIGHT (800-367-4448) to report misconduct. See NYS Office of the Inspector General for more information.
The NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) also provides New Yorkers with a means to report misconduct by State officials and employees, lobbyists and their clients, and others who fall under its jurisdiction. Call toll-free 800-87-ETHICS (800-873-8442). See the JCOPE website for more information.