New York State is promoting the use of a new identification system to stop cases of fraud committed against the unemployment system.
Numerous reports, including at least four in Northport, have been filed by residents saying they had been notified about false unemployment claims made in their names.
The Department of Labor has identified over 500,000 fraudulent claims and stopped over $6.4 billion in payments to criminals since the start of the pandemic while distributing over $70 billion in legitimate unemployment benefits to 4.2 million New Yorkers since March 2020.
The new identity verification tool, ID.me, is meant to both fight unemployment benefit fraud and speed up legitimate claims.
In addition, the Department of Labor has launched a new web page to provide New Yorkers with a step-by-step guide for protecting their identity from cyber criminals.
Previously, New Yorkers who had to provide additional identity documents before their claim could be established were required to submit evidence – including copies of birth certificates, passports, drivers licenses, or other similar documents – online or via fax. The DOL staff would then review each document and verify its authenticity, a manual process that often took weeks to complete.
Under the new process, these New Yorkers will receive an email or text message from the Department of Labor, asking them to use ID.me to quickly and easily verify their identity online. This upgrade will be particularly helpful for victims of identity theft who then file legitimate unemployment benefit claims themselves and have to prove their identity.
Criminals attempting to defraud the state’s unemployment system use real New Yorkers’ identities — likely stolen during previous data breaches involving third party institutions like banks, insurance companies, and major employers — to file fraudulent claims and illegally collect benefits in the name of individuals who are not unemployed. The Department has launched a new resource to help New Yorkers safeguard themselves against identity theft and predatory cyber criminals.