Skip to main content

'Imposter' unemployment claims on the rise in Minnesota

Fraudsters have been stealing personal information to file for unemployment as someone else.

As unemployment rises in Minnesota, an increasing number of cases have emerged in which a suspect uses someone else’s information to fraudulently file for unemployment as them.

It’s generally easy to catch, since the unemployment insurance program has to verify each claim with the employer. The person whose information has been stolen usually receives a letter in the mail letting them know they’ve qualified for a certain amount of benefits, alerting them that someone has filed.

Historically, these “imposter claims” account for less than one percent of fraudulent activity regarding unemployment claims annually, said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development spokesperson Jake Loesch. He said in the last month, 95 percent of the 5,000 reports of potential fraudulent activity - which could indicate anything from a misspelling to actual fraud - had already been caught by the time they were reported.  

In St. Louis Park, Nicole Kapinos, who works as a nurse, got one of those letters letting her know she’d qualified for unemployment a few weeks ago.

“I thought, well that’s weird,” Kapinos said.

Using the details from the letter, she logged on to her account and found it had been blocked. She waited on hold for two hours to talk with someone.

“If I didn’t have two hours to spend on the phone, and just put it off … that money would have started, and it would have been a huge problem at tax time, because it would have looked like I made money that I didn't make,” she said.

Her husband received the same letter. His employer, Allina Health, said this has happened to at least 85 of its employees.

Filing for unemployment requires a social security number. Mitchell said it’s likely that the suspects have obtained the information from previous database breaches at various companies.

“They’re on the dark web for sale for anyone who wants to buy it, so that information doesn’t just go away, it’s continually out there,” he said.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Those affected by this scam should report it to the unemployment insurance program and the police, Loesch said. They also should place fraud alerts with one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. A free credit report is available at annualcreditreport.com.

In addition, they can contact the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 800-269-0271. They can also order a copy of their Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) to make sure the work history on file with the SSA is accurate.

In Rochester, which is among the first cities to issue a PSA regarding this, officers have taken around 50 reports of this kind of fraud, said Sgt. John Mitchell. 

“If people are victimized by this, (they should) just make sure they’re diligent in alerting the credit bureaus and trying to be proactive as they can,” Mitchell said. 

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves survive Knicks' second-half barrage to get back to .500

Karl-Anthony Towns' lay-in helped Minnesota get a win in The Garden.

FLickr - crime scene tape do not crozz

Charges: MN teen shot mom after dispute over meth

The girl's mother said there had been a dispute over methamphetamine.

bad roads, blizzard

No travel advised: High winds, whiteout conditions in NW MN

Zero visibility in parts of greater Minnesota Tuesday night.

holy angels high school j nelson

Update: Holy Angels evacuated over bomb threat, school says

Someone left a voicemail early Tuesday suggesting there was an explosive device.

radio station, microphone

Convicted stalker charged with harassment of another DJ at The Current

He pleaded guilty to similar charges involving the DJ's colleague back in 2015.

Mall of America exterior Tyler Vigen Wikimedia COmmons

10 new shops, food stops at Mall of America

Donuts, K-fashion, model cars — the new tenants cover a lot of bases.

Gophers basketball

Gophers fall below roster minimum, postpone Penn State game

It is "due to internal COVID-19 protocols within the Golden Gopher program."

Raheem Morris

Report: Vikings request interview with Rams' Raheem Morris

Morris was once the youngest head coach in the NFL at 33 years old.

train crossing S Boardman Ave, New York Mills, Minnesota - August 2013 crop GSV

Sheriff: Drunk driver crashed trying to 'beat the train'

The BNSF train slammed into the side of the driver's car.

ambulance

Man run over after parking dispute leads to road rage crash

The two groups fought about parking prior to the crash.

hwy 41 engler boulevard crash crop

Deadly crash shuts down small stretch of Chaska highway for hours

A driver crossed over the center median and hit another vehicle.

covid test 6

You can now order 4 free at-home COVID tests from the government

Tests will ship for free within 7-12 days, according to the White House.

Related

blue-and-white-sorry-we-re-closed-wooden-signage-1171386

New data shows spike in unemployment rate, number of claims

Because part-time workers and those expecting a recall are not counted, the rate does not reflect the full impact on employment in Minnesota

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.27.08 AM

New data predicts Depression-era level of food need in Minnesota

The state's largest food bank says McKinsey & Co. projects need for food to peak in September.

I voted sticker

Early voting begins in Minnesota: Here's what to know

Answers to frequently asked questions, from getting an absentee ballot to going in person

selective-focus-photography-of-a-mailbox-2217613

Postal service warns Minnesota that votes may arrive too late in November

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon: 'Don't wait until October' to request ballot

selective-focus-photography-of-a-mailbox-2217613

String of mail thefts reported in Wayzata

Wayzata police issued a statement Wednesday alerting the public of several mail thefts.

voting

Minnesota waives requirement for absentee ballot witnesses in primary

The Minnesota SOS has waived the witness requirement and will count ballots postmarked received 2 days after the primary.

selective-focus-photography-of-a-mailbox-2217613

Postmaster General delays postal service cuts till after November election

"To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail," the postmaster general says any further operational changes will be postponed

MinnetonkaCityHall

Minnetonka the latest Minnesota city to consider face mask ordinance

The City Council says it is deciding between "encouraging" residents to wear masks or adopting a city ordinance