COVID-19 has unfortunately presented employment concerns worldwide. While some businesses were able to shift to remote workplaces, many were facing layoffs, furloughs, and terminating employees. Like most cybercriminals and scammers, unfortunate circumstances often lead to opportunities to prey on vulnerable populations. As a result, there have been many unemployment scams surfacing.
Here are some tips on how to avoid and address unemployment scams.
Understanding how scams occur. Unemployment scams typically happen in one of two ways: (1) fraudulent unemployment benefit claims, or (2) phishing. Fraudulent unemployment benefits claims are made using personal information of an employee, which can lead to a scammer receiving the employee’s unemployment benefits. Phishing is an email used to obtain personal information to claim fraudulent unemployment benefits, change bank information on unemployment claims, or steal additional personal information for other use.
Identifying and addressing scams promptly. Standardized forms for messaging and initial fraud alerts are usually available through government agencies and state representatives. In addressing a scam that has potentially impacted your employees, it is imperative to alert your employees as soon as possible. Remind them to take precautions in opening emails and distributing personal information. To safeguard employees’ personal information and further prevent the scam, provide them direction on who to contact if they believe they are involved or being targeted for a scam (i.e., IT, government agency, internal HR). Next, be sure to report the scam to your state unemployment agency. After the initial scam has been addressed, be sure to follow up with additional training, review of resources, and ensuring best practices are being implemented.
Preventing scams. The first, and highest recommended, step is to educate employees on identifying scam attempts. Building awareness and training on identifying scam attempts can help prevent scams from occurring. Employers should provide training on identifying not only potential scams, but also best practices for cybersecurity, reporting the scam to proper parties, and addressing any repercussions from such breaches (i.e., identity theft or fraud).
Some quick tips for identifying potential scams include:
Hovering over and reviewing links. This allows users to see the link without clicking and risking exposure to a potentially fraudulent site.
Recognizing state workforce agencies’ accounts. Government agencies do not direct users to external sites and only require email addresses in creating an account. Being able to identify a real government agency correspondence from a scammer is integral to preventing scams.
Not logging into accounts through emailed links. Oftentimes scammers will request personal logins through Google, Microsoft, and similar accounts. Many users will likely not look twice and enter personal information and passwords, which end up in the hands of scammers. Educate employees on reviewing emails more carefully to ensure it is a legitimate email from the reputable entity.
As an employer, the last thing you want is for your employees to face yet another hardship with an unemployment scam. If you need assistance in cybersecurity best practices or risk management, please contact Harbor America. Our safety and risk management specialists can provide online training manuals and claims management services to help protect your employees.