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Michigan unemployment agency warns of continued fake benefits claims

More than 100,000 claims for PUA benefits filed since Friday are flagged as possible fraud
 The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (WNDU)
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 2:22 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency is asking the public to watch for signs of identity theft to file fraudulent claims for benefits.

The agency is dealing with a dramatic increase in claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits since last Friday. About 100,000 claims have been flagged as potential fraud and no payments will be sent to those accounts until the claimants complete identity verification.

“Because of the additional fraud protections we developed last year at the onset of these coordinated attacks on state unemployment agencies, these fraudulent claims have been stopped and no payments have been sent,” said Liza Estlund Olson, acting director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Unemployment insurance agencies across the country are seeing a massive amount of impostor claims filed by scammers, who are using personal information obtained in identity theft cases. They appear to be motivated by increased federal jobless benefits, including the $300 a week payments available until next fall.

Unemployment filings posing as self-employed or independent contractors are some of the most frequently used programs to fraudulently obtain benefits through the PUA program, according to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The agency mails letters requesting identification information and outlining how much claims will receive in benefits to the address listed on the claim. Anyone who receives one of these letters and did not file for unemployment benefits could be a victim of identity theft.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency asks anyone who receives a letter about unemployment benefits they did not apply for to file a report online.

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