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Increase in Unemployment Fraud and Identity Theft


Saint Xavier University's (SXU) Office of Human Resources urges faculty and staff to be aware of a recent drastic increase in fraudulent unemployment claims that have been filed across Illinois. Many employees of higher education institutions, including employees of SXU, have been affected.

David Parker, J.D., LL.M., CFE, director of the Graham School of Management's Center for the Study of Fraud and Corruption, indicates that the situation is getting worse across the country. "Higher education is not immune from unemployment fraud," said Parker. "As unemployment benefits fraud cases continue to spread, many academic institutions around the United States are among the victims as cybercriminals try to get some of the billions of dollars in unemployment assistance and federal CARES Act funding during the coronavirus pandemic."

According to Parker, attempts to file unemployment claims for individuals who are still employed are known as "impostor claims," which is a type of identity theft in which someone uses another individual's personal information to collect unemployment compensation. The criminals filing these claims obtain information via the dark web using data obtained through breeches.

"Should a member of the University community become aware their identity is being used, they should report this immediately to Human Resources," said Parker. "They should also file a police report for identity theft and report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and"

Parker also encourages victims to review their credit reports, request fraud alerts and place a credit freeze on their credit files at larger credit bureaus, like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While the credit freeze will not stop the creation of fraudulent unemployment claims, it can help protect credit and minimize financial harm if their data is being used in damaging ways.

"Be advised the Office of Human Resources at Saint Xavier responds immediately when notified of a claim submitted on behalf of someone that is still employed and confirms whether or not the employee filed, thus enabling the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) to shut down the claim before any benefits are paid out," said Gerry Horan, director of Human Resources, who also urges employees not to respond to any scam calls, emails or text messages.

For additional information on reporting unemployment insurance fraud or how to take action to protect your personal information, visit the Federal Trade Commission website and  IDES website or call the IDES Benefits Payment Control Division at 800-814-0513.