Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak announced today that the department has contracted with security vendor ID.me to provide additional identity verification after a surge of fraudulent claims filed using stolen identities was detected recently in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Individuals who have filed PUA claims in Pennsylvania may be contacted in the coming days to complete additional identity verification steps through ID.me.
"This new layer of identity verification will help ensure PUA payments are going to Pennsylvanians in need and not into the pockets of fraudsters," said Secretary Oleksiak. "Our partnership with ID.me will allow us to make payments more quickly to legitimate PUA claimants while helping L&I fulfill its fiduciary responsibility to the public to prevent fraud."
On Sept. 21, L&I announced that it suspected a surge in fraudulent activity after staff members noticed a rapid increase in new PUA claims, with many out-of-state applicants. These fraudulent claims are made by scammers who apply for PUA benefits under stolen identities using personal information obtained through data breaches that occurred outside state government. ID.me will provide an additional layer of identity verification on top of previously implemented anti-fraud measures.
L&I has temporarily paused payments on new PUA claims while ID.me is being implemented. Claimants who are not already receiving payments will need to follow the directions in the communication they receive from ID.me to release their payments. Claimants who receive communication from ID.me will be able to verify its legitimacy before providing their personal information. PUA claimants already receiving payments are not affected by this change.
PUA provides financial assistance for self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not eligible for regular unemployment compensation. ID.me is only being implemented for the PUA program at this time. Identity verification for other unemployment programs, including Unemployment Compensation, is not undergoing any changes at this time.
ID.me is a federally certified identity verification provider that specializes in digital identity protection. ID.me is already assisting several other states with preventing fraud within the PUA program. L&I is continuing to monitor claims for fraudulent applications and working with law enforcement partners in bringing scammers to justice.
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