STATEWIDE – Like unemployment insurance programs across the country, Maine’s unemployment programs are the target of fraudulent claims.
Another 24,500 people have filed initial claims for unemployment benefits over the past week, more than double the number of claims last week, according to a Maine Department of Labor spokesperson.
The initial claims and weekly certifications of 137,700 claims for state unemployment and 135,600 claims for pandemic unemployment assistance represent a suspicious increase, Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said.
Commissioner Fortman said she thinks the higher numbers are evidence of the organized crime of unemployment impostor fraud.
She said there is a form on the unemployment website for people to fill out if they think their identities have been stolen.
Fortman said it’s too soon to give a total number of identities stolen, but the department of labor has received over 1,000 reports so far and expects this number to rise. Those reports are currently under investigation.
She said it is important for people to be aware their information is out there.
“The data that’s being used was obtained from data breaches that occurred some place else,” Fortman said. “We just really want people to be aware their information is out there and is in this case being used to file unemployment insurance claims, but it could be used for other purposes.”
Fortman is encouraging people to get their credit reports and put freezes in place.