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Thieves stealing identities to get unemployment checks

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 18:46:04-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The FBI says they’re getting more reports of identity theft fraud lately. Thieves are using it as a means to get ahold of unemployment checks.

Network security engineer with Cigent Technology, Evan Lutz says hackers are taking advantage of the pandemic.

“Cybersecurity incidents have actually been on the rise in general before COVID happened. I think that accelerated things past its expected increase,” he said.

FBI Special Agent Mark Jackson says fraud claims this year are projected to surpass last years numbers.

“Well last year, Florida alone had 43-million dollars worth of identity theft fraud. (09) And right now, through July of this year, we're up to close to $34 million already,” said Jackson.

Lutz shared ways to protect yourself, starting with social media.

“If going to your Facebook page allows somebody to see your address, your hometown, your high school, the first car that you owned…that information might be enough to be able to go in and answer security questions to reset an account password,” he said. “Then all of sudden, you’ve lost control of an account that’s in your name.”

He says that’s how hackers can access other accounts to then learn your social security number, and use that to file those false unemployment insurance claims. He says they’re also looking for ways to get into your bank account, especially if you’re spending your time at home shopping online.

“Make sure on your web browser in the URL, you see the little green lock or the lock icon, depending on what browser you’re using,” he said. “And your URL should always be “https://“ This means it’s a secured connection.”

The FBI says check your bank accounts regularly and report any suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.