The COVID-19 pandemic took center stage about a year ago in March 2020, creating significant financial hardships for many people around the world, some of whom are still impacted today. As a result, we saw an influx of unemployment claims that overwhelmed government agencies, which unfortunately created a significant opportunity for identity thieves. These malicious actors managed to make upwards of $5.4 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims in the US in 2020. Quite a few victims of this fraud, however, were not aware cybercriminals filed unemployment claims in their name until they received the tax forms in early 2021.
In these unprecedented times, it is exceedingly important to protect your identity and monitor your credit, as identity theft and cybercrime are growing faster than ever. If you believe a fraudulent unemployment claim has been made in your name, please see the linked article for tips and resources.
The most common abuse of this information would be opening new lines of credit in your name, which can cause serious damage to your credit. Check your credit report to make sure thieves aren't taking out credit cards under your Social Security number, and consider putting a freeze on your credit. You can also consider getting a credit monitoring and identity theft protection service.