PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Thousands of Rhode Islanders have fallen victim to unemployment insurance fraud, and R.I. State Police Detective Captain Robert Creamer said they’re still receiving approximately 100 fraud claims per day.
Creamer tells 12 News that they’ve received nearly 18,000 fraud claims since April 8, and Department of Labor and Training spokesperson Margaux Fontaine said the state’s unemployment claims have reached approximately $14 million.
Creamer said, in many cases, victims of unemployment insurance fraud will receive a letter from the DLT regarding benefits they didn’t apply for.
Those who receive a letter but have not applied for unemployment benefits should first fill out a fraud claim form on the Rhode Island State Police’s website.
“We put you on a list and we’ll contact the DLT to get those payments stopped, if any payments have gone out at all,” Creamer explained.
Creamer said after completing the form, there’s a few additional steps victims should take to protect themselves.
He suggested affected Rhode Islanders change any passwords associated with financial accounts and not to use the same password for every account.
“The password should be strong, something that’s 8-to-10 characters with capital letters, lowercase letters, different characters,” he said, adding that passwords should be updated regularly.
Creamer said affected individuals should also file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
“It alerts the credit agencies and it puts a complaint on file in the event that you need some kind of report to prove that you’ve been a victim of identity theft,” he said.
He said ensuring its been reported to the FTC is important, because there’s nothing stopping a criminal from using your social security number again.
“In fact, in the ‘cyber’ world, an individual’s personally identifiable information is often sold on the dark web,” he explained.
It’s also beneficial to contact the credit bureaus and request to freeze your credit report.
“It’ll put an alert in the event that someone is trying to use your personal information to open loans or open credit cards,” Creamer said.
Creamer said a new trend of fraudsters targeting homes that have been on the market for awhile or rental properties is also something everyone should be aware of.
“The bad actors might have several applications with that address with many different names of people who never even lived there, never stayed there, but the mailing for the DLT is actually going there,” he said.
Creamer urged anyone who receives these letters not to open them and to instead throw them away, not to open the letters or throw them away. Instead, he said to send them back to the DLT using the return address so police can read out to those who are affected.