coronavirus scams

Unemployment Scammers Strike Again

NBC 7 Responds looked at the new way people are trying to scam California out of unemployment-insurance benefits

NBC Universal, Inc.

With billions of dollars being paid out in unemployment insurance, people have been quick to try to scam the system. Now there's a new version that might make your mail vanish from your mailbox.

"You can get almost any information online and do whatever you want with it," said Robert Watrous of Mission Hills.

Watrous noticed that his mailbox was empty even though he knew something was supposed to arrive. When his mail carrier stopped by the next day, he was told the mail was being forwarded.

"It was going to an address in Baltimore, Maryland," said Watrous. "I was stunned. I don't know anybody there."

Watrous knew he was expecting mail because he is enrolled in the USPS Informed Delivery program, which tells you when your mail has been handed over to the USPS and when to expect delivery.

Because of Watrous' quick catch, the mail carrier was able to catch those letters before they were forwarded and delivered them the next day.

"I got 13 forms to fill out for unemployment insurance," Watrous said. "Someone was trying to get money from the state unemployment department."

Watrous is retired and so would not qualify for EDD assistance. He thinks someone used his name to try to scam the department.

"If I hadn't been aware and stopped my mail from being forwarded, all of those forms would have gone to Baltimore," Watrous said. "I'm sure someone would've filled them out and sent them back, in my name, and the money would've been sent to Baltimore."

Watrous tried to contact the EDD and USPS to report the fraud but said he had trouble getting through.

"They didn't get the forms, and they didn't get the account number," Watrous said. "I have all of that so the person is out of luck, whoever did that."

A U.S. Postal Service Inspector told NBC 7 that people should follow these four tips:

  • Report any suspected incident to your local post office as soon as you notice something is suspicious or contact postal inspectors at 877-876-2455
  • Postal customers are encouraged to monitor receipt of their mail by retrieving it daily from the mailbox or through Informed Delivery
  • If a customer notices a disruption in mail delivery of more than one day, they should contact the local post office to inquire why. Most individuals receive mail on a daily basis
  • Be aware of financial statements received for accounts that are not recognized. Contact the financial institution and ask to speak to the fraud department

Click here to learn more about the USPS Informed Delivery program.

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