OKANOGAN – Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley is cautioning people to be aware that there have been over 20 reports of fraudulent applications for unemployment benefits since May 7, 2020.
“The majority of those reports are coming from employees of school districts, Okanogan County, and Washington State employees. I am sure they are targeting employees of businesses who were deemed essential during the COVID-19 shut down in hopes of being able to file for unemployment benefits under their names. With the large amount of claims due to high unemployment; thieves are looking for one more way to get money they did not earn,” said Sheriff Hawley.
The sheriff adds that when people become aware of a fraudulent application for unemployment they should file a fraud report with the employment security. To file a report, go to https://www.esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployment-benefits-fraud.
“I contacted the Washington State Attorney General’s office and was advised this is a statewide problem. The AG’s office advised they are referring people to file online with the Washington State Employment Security Department. I was advised the phone lines are down due to large call volumes so filing online is the best approach and it provides the steps and information needed,” Hawley said.
The sheriff added, “We have not had any reports of payments going out from Unemployment Security as they seek confirmation from the employer prior to activating those benefits. Employers should be vigilant in verifying any correspondence from Washington State Employment security so that any fraudulent applications can be addressed.”
Individuals should also follow up with checking into their credit report to ensure no other fraudulent activity has occurred. They should also be asked for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report which lasts 90 days initially.
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