Saturday, June 22, 2024

Unemployment benefit applications can be faked. (Photo: Ivan Radic via Flickr)

More scammers are filing fake unemployment benefits claims in the names of Cambridge residents, a fraud that exploded in the early days of the pandemic but had subsided by last year, Cambridge police say. Harvard University also warned employees that the scam “appears to be on the increase.”

“In the past few weeks, we have seen an uptick in fraudulent unemployment claims,” Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Jeremy Warnick said Wednesday. He said the false claims using other people’s personal information were “part of a national unemployment fraud scheme” and weren’t associated with state or local data breaches.

Warnick said 39 residents have complained to police this year that someone filed an unemployment claim in their name, compared with 22 for the same period last year. In 2021 the total was 48.

Harvard University’s human resources department posted an alert on its website Tuesday saying: “Some employees are reporting that fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance have been filed with the state of Massachusetts in their names.”

Police and Harvard advised victims to report the scam to the state unemployment insurance office, credit bureaus, their police department, banks and other financial institutions, their employer, the IRS and the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Victims should place a freeze on their credit reports and should monitor credit card and bank statements carefully.