Fraudsters have been targeting pandemic unemployment assistance claims, and now they are turning to another type of application.
Leeann Kacon has been receiving unemployment compensation benefits for the last year, But she told NBC10 Responds the money stopped coming last month. She then logged into her account with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry only to find her banking info was accessed without her authorization.
"Bills are piling up," Kacon said. "I can't pay my rent."
In distress, Kacon reached out to both the state Department of Labor and Industry, which approves the applications, and the Pennsylvania Treasury, which issues the money. She said she was being passed back and forth between two agencies, both claiming the other could help.
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"All the redial calls that I had to do," Kacon said.
Running out of options, Kacon reached out to NBC10 Responds.
During our interview, the state Department of Labor and Industry happened to call, passing her to the state Treasury yet again.
That's when Kacon burst into tears. She told the representative from the state Department of Labor and Industry, "I'm sorry for getting upset, but I haven't received any payments, and it's just such a circle going back and forth, back and forth."
NBC10 reached out to both the state Treasury and state Department of Labor and Industry to see who can help her.
Later that week, the state Treasury told NBC10 Responds it received the information it needed from the state Department of Labor and Industry to correct Kacon's banking info.
"We're sorry it didn't happen sooner," state Treasury spokesman Erik Arneson said.
The state Treasury also told NBC10 Responds that it’s seeing an uptick in unemployment compensation fraud in Pennsylvania and other states.
But how were fraudsters able to switch someone's bank account info online?
"They get access to that original account number somehow, probably through information that's been hacked, having nothing whatsoever to do with any government agency," Arneson said. "They get that and then they're able to change it to the new account number."
If this happens to you, Treasury officials said you should report the fraud through the state Department of Labor and Industry's website like Kacon did, as well as emailing both agencies. That way, you could track things with a paper trail, knowing precisely what was said and when it was said.
The state Department of Labor and Industry says it is working to prevent fraud and to keep the money going to legitimate filers.
"Since the new Unemployment Claims system went live on June 8, the (state) Department of Labor and Industry has prevented over $1 billion dollars from being paid to the fraudsters," state Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.
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