Better Business Bureau, VEC investigating unemployment fraud claims
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - If you received an unexpected letter from the Virginia Employment Commission, or VEC, regarding an unemployment benefits claim, then you might have been the victim of identity theft through a fraudulent unemployment claim.
Now, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving Western Virginia and VEC are warning Virginians to be on the lookout.
“[VEC] wants to make sure that that was intentional. In other cases, [VEC] is also seeing if you’re receiving unemployment benefits when you aren’t [supposed to] or they’re trying to verify that you did actually file for unemployment benefits,” Julie Wheeler with BBB Serving Western Virginia said.
BBB said some unemployment recipients reported their VEC bank account, payment and personal information were changed without their knowledge or permission. These claimants said they stopped receiving benefits after noticing the change.
If you get this letter and have not received your benefits, Wheeler said it’s possible that someone else is receiving your money. If you are working and did not file for unemployment someone may have stolen your information, she said.
“Someone has misused your personal information and has filed for unemployment benefits,” Wheeler said. “That is actually a form of identity theft.”
Enga Knicely of Waynesboro is a mother of three and is taking classes to receive a job certification. She lost her job when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and has firsthand experienced VEC unemployment fraud.
Knicely said she has not received her unemployment benefits since February. She said she called, emailed and faxed VEC, spending countless hours on hold, and only got an answer on why she has not received her benefits last week.
“[VEC customer service] started asking me for my address and my telephone number. She said that’s not what we have on file for you,” Knicely said. “She asked if I changed my address and I’ve lived at the same address for years.”
Since then, Knicely has been told VEC will contact her about this fraudulent claim but has yet to hear when she may receive her unemployment money.
“With me turning it into the fraud department, I still haven’t heard anything from anybody to give me any answers on nothing,” she said.
“That money went somewhere, I would think. It would’ve had to go to a valid bank account for it to go to. How can they not track this and figure it out? Why is it taking so long to figure out because it sounds like it wasn’t just one or two people?” Knicely said. “It sounds like, to me, it’s been lots.”
VEC is investigating the issues and posted this message on its website: “VEC is aware of reports from some customers that their banking information may have been changed without their permission. VEC is investigating these reports and has limited some functionality on our claims filing website until further notice.”
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft for your unemployment insurance claim, report it by clicking here or call the VEC Fraud Hotline at 1-800-782-4001.
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