DWD detects, prevents nearly 350 instances of identity-fraud against Wisconsin unemployment program

Coronavirus

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Almost 350 instances of identity-fraud against Wisconsin’s unemployement insurance program were detected and prevented by the Department of Workforce Development, according to a Tuesday release.

DWD says 342 unsuccessful attempts to access the system with a stolen social security number were identified as of May 15. Out of the 1.4 million claims, totaling more than $1.1 billion, that DWD has paid out since March 15, 171 claims were flagged as potential fraud with payments estimated to be about $26,000.

“While we are relieved that we have not experienced the same level of attacks as some other states and are proud that Wisconsin has been a leader at detecting fraud, DWD remains committed to taking all appropriate steps to prevent fraud against our UI system,” Secretary Caleb Frostman said. “During a time when so many are experiencing joblessness, it is unfortunate that some individuals are trying to take advantage of the crisis by committing fraud not only against the state, but our fellow Wisconsinites. “

DWD says the instances of fraud, which began in late March, involve an individual using another’s identity in an attempt to claim benefits on their behalf. Officials say the individuals had stolen personal information from sources outside of the agency, like the Equifax breach, and then used it to apply for benefits and attempted to route payments to their own bank accounts. DWD’s anti-fraud team recognizes this imposter fraud from past attacks on the system. 

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“While DWD has a litany of tools at its disposal to detect fraud against the program and will continue to diligently defend the UI trust fund,” Frostman said, “we ask for the public’s assistance in reporting any suspected instances of fraud, such as if you receive mail incorrectly indicating you have applied for UI benefits.”

The public can learn more about how to recognize and report suspected fraud here.

“DWD is working tirelessly to quickly get UI benefits out to those who need them,” Frostman said. “We must combat fraudulent activities so we may pay out legitimate claims and block those who seek to do harm.”

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