COLORADO SPRINGS — The next time you check your mailbox you'll want to keep an eye out for suspicious unemployment mail. News5 spoke with one family who says they were concerned about what they found and it turns out Colorado's unemployment system has become a major target for fraud. Investigators say criminals want to cash in on benefits in your name.
News5 spoke with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser who says this is a major problem right now in Colorado.
"There are people out there trying to pretend they are you in some cases to get unemployment benefits that aren't really warranted," said Weiser. "This is a real problem right now in Colorado. You need to know, if you are getting wind of it you can let us know about it and we can help you. The labor department is working hard not to fall prey to these scams because they don't want to give money to scammers. But unfortunately, with unemployment insurance benefits being accessed right now at historic levels it's an easy target for scammers to go after."
News5 learned suspicious mail is showing up in mailboxes up and down the state. Viewers say the letters are from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and often include unemployment benefit cards and pin numbers. But in every case, the recipient never applied for unemployment benefits.
The concern is criminals may be trying to cash in on unemployment benefits by stealing this mail and using people's personal information to apply for those benefits. One viewer says with the unemployment system seeing historic volume, it's more difficult to get answers.
"Right now it is virtually impossible to get a hold of anyone at the Department of Labor and Unemployment. Unfortunately, I did go online and I found out that their phone system is backlogged. When I couldn't get through to anybody the first thing I thought of was News5," said Rita, a southern Colorado resident.
When she called, News5 sent her to get in contact with Stop Fraud Colorado, the consumer protection division of the Attorney General's Office.
Consumer protection experts say if you get unemployment benefit mail you did not apply for, here's what you should do:
- If there is any kind of a bank card inside, destroy it
- If there is a bank card, report it. In most cases it will be to usbankreliacard.com
- Destroy the bank card
- Monitor your credit for any signs of identity theft
Fraud and cyber experts tell News5 in many cases of identity theft the criminals are able to acquire our information through data breaches, or by purchasing the stolen information through the dark web.
Here is a link provided by the State of Colorado to help anyone who has received this unexpected piece of mail: https://cdle.colorado.gov/fraud-prevention
UPDATE: Some people may also be getting unexpected tax forms tied to the unemployment fraud. Here's where you can report that: https://co.tfaforms.net/f/Report_Invalid_1099