COLORADO SPRINGS — You're speaking up and we're listening as we continue to cover the issues surrounding widespread identity theft and fraud being experienced by people across southern Colorado. News5 is learning about another wave of suspicious mail arriving in our communities.
We've spent weeks talking about the fake unemployment claims people have been receiving and the experts told us it was a sign that our sensitive information is out there and being used by crooks. Now we're starting to learn more about the next move of the fraudsters.
One of our viewers who was targeted by a fake unemployment claim says he took all the steps to protect himself, but now he is concerned after getting Green Dot cards in the mail in his name.
Here's what they look like...
They are basically re-loadable debit cards you can get a various stores. Fraud experts say it's more evidence that sensitive information that is out there is still being utilized by the fraudsters to open up and load these cards and we need to continue to be on guard.
"I went on and I called the credit bureaus and put a fraud check on my accounts and then about a week later I got that Green Dot paperwork in the mail with an actual card and my name on it," said Pueblo resident Everett Laughlin, who has been targeted by identity theft and unemployment fraud.
Fraud investigator and expert "Dr. Fraud" J. Michael Skiba of CSU Global says it's important to cancel these cards, but if you wind up on the wrong website to do so it could open the door for scammers again.
"If you are just googling and you are going outside of what's on the card I've seen scam websites come up and what they're doing is they are pretending they are customer service agencies supporting green dot cards. So what they'll do is people will actually call these and all they need to do is give that 14 digit code on the back and then all of a sudden those funds are drained," said Skiba.
If you get Green Dot cards in the mail you should take steps included in the paperwork to cancel them and report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.
"It's actually a little bit scarier because it was such a wide range of people that this is affecting. Where are they getting this information from? And that's really what I'm worried about," said Laughlin.
If you were targeted by a fake unemployment claim, even if you took all the steps to protect yourself, the experts say you can't let your guard down because we're now seeing another round of fraud.
"You know for a lot of people maybe this is something new to them. They've never experienced anything like this before and they might feel helpless about where to go, or just think it's going to go away. And I will tell you wholeheartedly it will not. There definitely are steps that people need to take to make sure that it's documented," said Skiba.
Another important step you can take is signing up online for informed delivery from the United States Postal Service. It's an important step that can help you know what's coming in the mail each day before the mail thieves and scammers do.
Here are some other important links for reporting fraud tied to unemployment:
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 unemployment fraud. Here's where you can report that: https://co.tfaforms.net/f/Report_Invalid_1099
Previous reporting on unemployment fraud: