The letter that arrived in March from the New York State Department of Labor was a wake-up call: My name and Social Security number had been used to file fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits.
The news that criminals have my Social Security number and other identifying information shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Due to continuing security breaches, “you can bet that the personal information of every adult in the U.S. has been exposed. Our data are out there,” said Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention at AARP Fraud Watch Network, which offers free help to consumers.
Amid the pandemic, identity theft has soared. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission more than doubled to 1.38 million from 2019 to 2020, a tally that includes unemployment-benefits fraud.
The U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General on March 31 estimated that at least 10%, or more than $89 billion, of the $896 …