Recent warnings have been issued regarding the prevalence of unemployment benefit fraud in the area, according to a joint press release from District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer of McKean, District Attorney of Elk, Tom Coppolo, and District Attorney of Cameron, Paul Malizia.
Even since these warnings were published, the area has been flooded with additional calls from concerned citizens, the statement said. Prosecutors have reissued the original press release to ensure residents in the area are alerted.
Residents have been exposed to fraud in two ways – first, someone has used their information to apply for unemployment benefits and withheld; Or two, perks have just popped up when the person asked for them neither in the form of a paper check nor as a deposit into their bank account.
If someone has been a victim of identity theft, it is very important to report the fraudulent activity to the department and return the money if received. As a result, these fraudulent payments will not be reported as income when distributing 1099G at the end of the year.
Social media, text messages, and emails are used to trick people into revealing their identifying information, which is then used to request benefits.
If someone has received unemployment benefits that they did not apply for, they will be instructed not to cash the checks or to spend the money.
The person should also report the fraud to the state by following the instructions below and filing a police report with the police in their area of responsibility.
However, in summary, the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Office offers the following instructions:
To return paper checks, individuals should write “void” on the check and return it to:
Pennsylvania Treasury Department, 651 Boas St., Room 400 L&I Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120
Anyone receiving a direct deposit and not applying for Pennsylvania unemployment benefits should not use the funds. Using the funds knowing that a person has not applied for a PUA or any other UC program can be considered a fraud and a repayment will be required.
The funds are to be repaid to:
Department of Labor and Industry, 651 Boas St., Room 500, Harrisburg, PA 17121
Please enclose a short signed statement stating the reason for the return of the check and include a printed name, address, the last four of the social security number, a telephone number and an email address.
Phone: Call the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469.