Don't Be A Victim: Avoid Unemployment Scams

Avoid Unemployment Scams

On occasion the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) receives notification of potential scams aimed at Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants and their current or former employers.

This page contains alerts for known scams related to collecting unemployment benefits in an effort to protect claimants and employers and their personal information.

How to tell if a message from DWD is official:

  • Official text messages from DWD provide the my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov web address.
  • DWD does not send text messages to claimants to notify them that their profile or claim will be deactivated.
  • DWD does not send group text messages (texts with more than one recipient).
  • Any official text messages from DWD notify the claimant to log on to their Claimant Portal at my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov ​to view any messages securely.
  • Do NOT click on links, enter your user information, or provide any information to suspicious websites or spoofed messages.

To verify a caller:

  • Ask the caller to provide their (1) first name, (2) adjudicator code, and (3) phone number.
  • Call the UI Claimant Assistance Line at (414) 435-7069 or toll-free (844) 910-3661 to verify the caller is assigned to your claim.

Scams Targeting Claimants

July 2021 Fraud Alert: U.S. DOL Assistance Scam

View this Facebook message scam claiming the U.S. Department of Labor can assist when a payment is held. Be aware of phishing and spoofing attempts and do not click any links.

July 2021 Fraud Alert: Wisconsin UI Debt Consolidation Scam

Beware of solicitations from debt relief services offering to negotiate a reduction on an unemployment overpayment debt for a small fee. WI Unemployment Insurance (UI) does not employ outside debt relief or debt collection services. Unemployment overpayments and penalties cannot be settled for a lesser amount.

Please call 608-266-9701 to speak to a WI UI Collections Specialist if you have any questions about your debt repayment options and to make payment arrangements. If you are unable to pay the full amount, the collections specialist will be able to assist with various payment options available to you.

July 2021 Fraud Alert: Wisconsin UI Text Scams

Be on the lookout! cammers are sending a variety of text messages to try to get people to click on the link and enter their personal information. If you have opted in to receive text messages from the department and you're not sure if something is legitimate, log into your Claimant Portal to see if you've really received a message.

The following are examples of fake text messages (the scammers regularly change the web address and wording):

  • Fake text message that states there is an error in your claim and to click to review your claim.
  • Fake text message that states we are making changes to improve securing and instructing you to update your profile.
  • Fake text message that states a change to your payment method will not be activated until you respond.
  • Fake text message stating there is unauthorized (spelled incorrectly) activity on your account and to authenticate your account.

June 2021 Fraud Alert: Call Identity Hotline Scam

Scammers are sending fake text messages instructing people to contact the Identity Hotline. Scammers often change their approach so a text message may include a link to click on or a fake phone number to call, which scammers hope people will use to share their personal information. DWD does not send text messages instructing people to contact the Identity Hotline. Be aware of phishing and spoofing attempts through text messages and do not click any links.

June 2021 Fraud Alert: Wisconsin UI Email Scam

View this email from Unemployment Support asking you to click on a link to confirm a notification. Be aware of phishing and spoofing attempts through email and do not click any links.

May 2021 Fraud Alert: Wisconsin UI, PUA and PEUC Text Scams

View these fake text messages that claim you have to verify your Benefit Profile details within 48 hours or your benefits will be deactivated. Scammers are trying to get people to click on the link and enter their personal information:

If you have opted in to receive text messages from the department and you're not sure if something is legitimate, log into your Claims Portal to see if you've really received a message.

April 2021 Fraud Alert: Verify Your Identity Scam

View this spoofed DWD UI email to verify your identity as a result of a recent review on your Wisconsin unemployment claim, asking you to click on a "Verify My Identity" button. Be aware of phishing and spoofing attempts through email and do not click any links.

March 2021 Fraud Alert: Wisconsin UI Email Scam

View this spoofed Wisconsin UI email asking you to click on a link to fill out a form. Holding your cursor over the link provided in the email will show it does not go to the website indicated. Be aware of phishing and spoofing attempts through email and do not click any links.

March 2021 Fraud Alert: Fake DWD Facebook Page

Be aware of fraudulent DWD Facebook pages that mimic the official page for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. There was a fake DWD facebook page that started to reply to comments on DWD's legitimate government Facebook page (WIWorkforce). The fake DWD Facebook page was blocked and reported.

How can you tell what's real and what's fake? Our legitimate Facebook Page has a blue checkmark that indicates it is a verified account.
Blue checkmark on Facebook

March 2021 Fraud Alert: Fake Fraud Investigators

Fake fraud investigators may reach out to claimants by phone or text. One is using the name Katty Wilson, providing a supposed "badge number" 1028, and calling from a San Diego, CA phone number (619) 860-1098, then transferring to a Washington, DC number, (202) 860-2768. NOTE: To confirm a caller is a DWD investigator, the claimant should ask the caller to provide their (1) first name, (2) adjudicator code, and (3) phone number. The claimant may then call the help center at (414) 435-7069 or toll-free (844) 910-3661 to verify the investigator's identity.

December 2020 Fraud Alert: Fraudulent Facebook Page

DWD will never ask you for your social security number over Facebook Messenger. If you receive a message requesting your personal information, please notify us immediately. Tennessee state reported a fraudulent Facebook page that appeared to be legitimate (using official looking logos and images). View this fraudulent messenger screenshot scamming claimants to send detailed personal information.

November 2020 Fraud Alert: PUA Phishing Emails

Be aware other states have reported Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) phishing emails, like this PUA email from Ohio.

There are also Pandemic UI Assistance emails circulating in Wisconsin. View this Wisconsin phishing email. Clues this is a phishing scam:

  • Email address on the To: line would read "John Doe" (firstpartofemail@yahoo.com) if it were legitimate.
  • Sender of phishing email refers to John Does as "firstpartofemail" in the greeting in the email body. An legitimate email from DWD would not refer to him by his email address and would use his name.
  • Holding the cursor over the links provided in the email show that they do not go to the website indicated in the text of the link.

October 2020 Fraud Alert: Spoofed PUA Email from U.S. DOL

View this spoofed U.S. Department of Labor email being sent to UI Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants asking you to log in your account and verify recent activity. Be aware of phishing and spoofing attempts through email and do not click any links.

September/October 2020 Fraud Alert: Credential Stuffing Hacking Schemes

Nefarious actors continue to target state UI systems with increasingly sophisticated hacking schemes to access personal information of UI claimants using credential stuffing (stolen credentials are used to log into web-based systems). Wisconsin recently was one of multiple states to detect unauthorized intrusions of state UI data originating from Japan, South Korea, Russia and inside the U.S. We are working with the USDOL – OIG to investigate the multi-state hacking incident and continue to take additional steps to ensure the safety and security of Wisconsin's UI systems.

DWD has implemented system enhancements to combat these attacks. Specifically, geo-blocking and captcha controls were put in place and improved scans of access activity are being performed.

What can you do? Avoid reusing the same logon credentials (e.g., passwords) on multiple accounts. If you suspect identity theft, go to Report Unemployment Fraud to request a fraud investigation.

image of fraud alert graphic

June 2020 Fraud Alert: Trusted Company Scams

Be aware of phishing emails using the names of companies know and trust. Scammers trick you into signing into the trusted company using familiar icons, folders and programs, to steal your personal information. No State Work Force Agency requires you to use a secondary account to sign into their system.

For screenshots of these phishing emails and more information view this Fraud Alert Flyer from the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Labor (En Español).

May 2020 Fraud Alert: COVID-19 Pandemic UI Scams

Be aware of numerous schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In one scheme, scammers have offered to help individuals file claims for unemployment benefits, asking for personal information. You do NOT need to pay anyone to file or qualify for your benefits.

For more information on these COVID-19 scams view this Fraud Alert Flyer from the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Labor (En Español).

  • Facebook Job Openings
    Facebook posts for Call Center Job openings on UpWork or paying CareerOneStop to help you apply for UI are a scam. Do not apply for these jobs; and do not pay for these services. There is a posting on a FaceBook group (Strictly Homebased Work)-linking to a job posting on UpWork that is soliciting call center workers—allegedly for CareerOneStop (see screenshot). The call-center script offers to help people file a UI claim for a fee of $49.50. The script directs the call-center workers to say they are calling on “behalf of CareerOneStop which is a product of the USDOL/ETA.”
  • No Fee
    There is no fee to file for unemployment benefits. If you get a phone call from someone representing themselves as being from California EDD or a representative of Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance telling you that you need to pay to file for unemployment benefits - Do not give any information to the caller or send money.
  • False Websites
    There are several websites that advertise that they can assist claimants in filing for unemployment benefits. Some of those sites offer services free of charge and others do charge for the services. The sites often ask for confidential/private information such as your social security number, address, work history and email address. Use only the official Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance websites: dwd.wisconsin.gov/ui or unemployment.wisconsin.gov
  • Emails and Text Messages
    We WILL NOT ask you for personal information or for you to verify your eligibility for unemployment benefits by email or text message. If you receive an email or text message and you are unsure if it came from Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance, contact a claims specialist by phone at (414) 435-7069.
  • Email Scams
    1. If you receive an email from the Job Center of Wisconsin (JCW), stating there is an employment opportunity and you need to set up a Google Hangouts account to conduct an interview or you will lose benefits, do not respond.  JCW provides more information on how to protect yourself online including actions to take.
    2. If you receive an email from an individual or service regarding your method of payment for receipt of unemployment benefits from Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance do not respond. The email advises claimants to enroll in a direct deposit card program online and lists a mailing address in Las Vegas, NV. This communication did not come from the State of Wisconsin, DWD, Unemployment Insurance Division. Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance would never communicate with you via email regarding direct deposit.
    3. There have been several complaints of individuals receiving false emails stating that they had won a $1,000 Visa gift card free of charge. The individuals were directed to a website to claim the gift card. The website malware attempts to download to their computer. These emails are not from the Texas Workforce Commission nor are they from the State of Wisconsin, DWD, Unemployment Insurance Division. Gift cards or other “gifts” are not being given away.
  • Applying for Debit Cards
    A recent scam directs claimants to a website (unemploymentclaims.org) to apply for a debit card. The scam company then charges for no activity on the card. Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance uses the Visa® Pre-Paid Debit Card (U.S. Bank ReliaCard®) to pay unemployment benefits.
  • ATM Threats
    Protect yourself when using your Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Debit Card and any other personal debit or credit cards. Be discreet when entering your PIN or withdrawing cash at an ATM. If an ATM or even a gas pump looks suspicious, do not use it!; Criminals try to steal information about your credit or debit card through skimming, copying information from the magnetic strips, in order to gain access to your account.
  • Job Offers
    If you receive a call from someone representing himself as an employee of Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance offering employment but requesting your credit card number and personal information in order to be hired, do not provide the information. Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance would not ask you for your credit card information.
  • Online Surveys
    Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance does not pay claimants to take surveys. If you receive an email requesting that you complete an online survey seeming to be from the State of Wisconsin, DWD, Unemployment Insurance which promises to pay you to complete the survey, do not complete the survey. This is likely an attempt to get your personal information.

Scams Targeting Employers

  • Phone Scams
    • June 2020 Fraud Alert: The University of Wisconsin (UW) Office of Human Resources has received several reports of unemployment phone scams and fraudulent attempts to collect benefits using stolen information. Scenario: Employee receives a phone call from an unknown number. The caller impersonates a Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) employee, and states that DWD had no record of UW employment. They then request the employee provide their Social Security Number in order to receive unemployment benefits.
  • Email Scams
    1. If you receive an email that claims to be sent on behalf of the New York or Wisconsin “Division of Unemployment Assistance”: @detma.org requesting information about a former employee, do not reply to the message and do not click on the link in the message. This appears to be an email identity theft scam. Neither the New York Department of Labor nor the State of Wisconsin’s DWD Unemployment Insurance Division sent the email. Neither office would request confidential information in this manner. Wisconsin UI does not send emails for information on former employees.
    2. There is an imposter Kevin Adams, claiming to be a Sr. Benefit Representative. He is targeting employers seeking confidential information. He is targeting employers using an email ending in atworker.com and using an 866 number. Neither the State of Wisconsin, DWD, Unemployment Insurance nor the State of MO uses an 866 number. The emails for employees use their name and end in labor.mo.gov for Missouri workers and dwd.wi.gov for State of Wisconsin workers. Neither agency has employees titled Sr. Benefits Rep. in their unemployment divisions.