When you are filing for unemployment benefits, the state’s unemployment insurance agency will ask you to share personal information related to your unemployment and your recent earnings.
“They will ask you for your social security number, your name, your address for the last 18 months, your employer’s name and address for the last 18 months, and all of your earnings records from the last 18 months,” said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project who specializes in unemployment insurance.
Because of the recent nationwide scams, some state agencies may also reach out to verify your identity, Evermore said. “You need to respond to that quickly and if possible, electronically, because it’s slower to process that verification if you send it in on paper,” she said.
But you should not be asked to share or verify this sensitive information over text or email ― it would happen through the state’s official portal for unemployment insurance. “It depends on the state, but they are not going to direct you to anything other than the state UI website, or to mail your information to the state UI agency,” Evermore said.
“We WILL NOT ask you for personal information or for you to verify your eligibility for unemployment benefits by email or text message,” declares the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, for example.
To deal with long queues, some state unemployment insurance agencies will call applicants back by phone, but “it’s doubtful the agency would call you out of the blue. You’d know you’ve gotten in line for a callback,” Evermore noted.
When in doubt about the authenticity of a communication, look up your state’s official phone numbers and website for unemployment benefits and compare them to what you have received.
If you do think you have spotted an unemployment scam or know someone who has been scammed, you can report it to the Office of the Inspector General online or by calling the hotline below: