JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Just because you are back to work, doesn’t mean you are immune to unemployment fraud.
A woman who is no longer unemployed says after she saw a First Coast News story about hackers plaguing the unemployment system, she caught fraudsters on her old account.
Gerilynn Taylor checked her account information and sure enough, payments were being routed to the hacker’s bank account.
“I had gone on there after I saw your article,” Taylor said. “What do you know? Its been changed to the JP Chase Morgan Bank account.”
Taylor said the fraudster collected four weeks of unemployment benefits on her account—which adds up to more than $1,600.
The hacker claimed the four weeks while Taylor was happily working.
The hundreds of thousands of other Floridians back to work may think their troubles with the unemployment system are done, but think again.
“For claimants that are back to work, that shouldn’t deter them from checking their CONNECT accounts,” said unemployment expert Vanessa Brito.
When claimants go back to work, they just stop claiming benefits. Their accounts aren’t shut down, which means if a hacker gets in, they can continue to claim weeks.
“Fraud has been so rampant since the beginning of the pandemic,” Brito said.
If you find that your account has been hacked, report it to the Department of Economic Opportunity right away. Though many stop there, Brito said there are extra steps you can take.
“Follow up with complaints to the Department of Justice and the Secret Service because both have COVID fraud units.”
These units were created to tackle unemployment fraud happening nationwide.
“They will put pressure on DEO and they will put pressure on the state to follow up on that fraudulent claim,” Brito said.
Most importantly, be proactive so it doesn’t get to this point.
“Don’t forget to check your account,” Taylor said. “When Josslyn tells you to check, check it. No matter what, when they tell you to check, check it. Nobody is immune.”