New scams emerge across state

HARRISBURG—State Department of Labor & Industry officials are warning residents to remain vigilant against scams as new reports emerge of fraudsters posing as L&I employees on phone calls to Pennsylvanians.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry will never contact you and ask for your personal, private information,” said L&I Sec. Jerry Oleksiak. “If you receive a call, email, text, social media message, or other communication seeking information such as your username, password or full Social Security number, do not provide it. We will never ask you for this information.”

A very small number of Pennsylvanians reported receiving phone calls and other communication recently seeking their personal information, including their Social Security numbers, from individuals posing as L&I employees, he said.

These scammers may be telling potential victims they require this personal information to correct an unemployment compensation account issue.

Some of the victims of this scam have previously received unemployment benefits for which they did not apply. L&I employees do not call, text, or email individuals and say they are investigating fraud. L&I employees will never contact individuals and ask for their full Social Security numbers.

Multiple states, including Pennsylvania, have been inundated with fraudulent unemployment claims, primarily through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which assists out-of-work individuals who are typically ineligible for traditional UC. These fraudsters file claims using personal information stolen through data breaches that occurred outside of state government.

Other states have also seen instances of scammers redirecting legitimate claim payouts by obtaining claimants’ usernames and passwords, logging on, and changing the claimants’ banking information. It’s possible that scammers could be trying to obtain this account information in Pennsylvania by posing as L&I employees and asking for it under the guise of fixing an issue. Claimants are urged to never provide their username and password to anyone, especially over social media. L&I employees will never ask for a claimant’s username or password.

Oleksiak said L&I does not currently offer assistance to claimants over social media messaging due to the inability to guarantee security and confidentiality, and messages received by “L&I” over social media are most likely fraudulent and should be ignored.