KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Since the beginning of the year, there have been reports of more and more scammers taking advantage of people applying for state unemployment benefits.
What’s happening is that accounts are being hacked. Scammers are sometimes logging into accounts trying to divert money into a different bank or credit union. One Knoxville man shared how his unemployment account was hacked – twice.
By logging into his account on the state website, he could see what the scammers were up to.
The state says if you are signed up for unemployment benefits and notice fraudulent activity, to contact their office immediately.
It’s been a long 5 1/2 months for Alan Hodge.
That’s the time he’s been without unemployment benefits, even though he’s looked for work and registered weekly with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The unemployed pipefitter found out last November his unemployment account with the state had been hacked.
In other words, the scammer or scammers hit his account twice. Immediately, in mid-November, Alan contacted the state about the fraudulent activity.
Earlier this month, we reported how Misty Williams had also been hacked as she waited for her state unemployment benefits. In February, she was sent a warning message from the Tennessee Labor Department, her weekly check was being held up. The FTC said there have been over 1,000 cases of unemployment ID theft in Tennessee this year. Williams’ case was resolved a few weeks ago.
But Alan Hodge’s case is one of those that continues to be under investigation. Williams told us a state investigator confirmed her account had been compromised.
Both Misty and Alan were told by the state a red flag is raised when banking information is change as a result both their accounts were locked out, as the unemployment office investigates their identity.
And since the state began investigating, Alan’s account his benefits are frozen until the case is resolved.
Regarding Alan’s situation, the state labor department tells us it is trying to resolve his case.
Tennessee isn’t the only state where hackers have tried to take advantage of the thousands of people applying for benefits as a result of being laid off due to the pandemic. The FTC says many states are dealing with old technology that can’t keep up with increasingly complex schemes to bypass identity safeguards.
The key is to continue monitoring your account until benefits arrive.