The Department of Justice (DoJ) is warning of fake unemployment websites after receiving reports that scammers created the websites to obtain consumer’s personal information and other sensitive data.

The DoJ said scammers are sending out phishing messages via text and email to look like they’re from a state workforce agency (SWA), containing a link to a fake website.

“The fake websites are designed to trick consumers into thinking they are applying for unemployment benefits and disclosing personally identifiable information and other sensitive data,” a DoJ press release said. “That information can then be used by fraudsters to commit identity theft.”

The agency warned consumers to never click on a link claiming to be from an SWA, unless it is from a known and trusted source. To report suspicious texts or emails claiming to be from an SWA, the DoJ said to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling 866-720-5721 or by using the NCDF complaint form.

In addition to combatting unemployment phishing scams, SWAs have also encountered widespread unemployment fraud due to an increase in unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes as the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General released a report revealing that of $630 billion in unemployment payments, at least $63 billion “could be paid improperly, with a significant portion attributable to fraud.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.