magnifying glass focuses on word fraud in red on balance sheet with calculator nearby This past year saw unprecedented levels of unemployment fraud, both in terms of the number of claims filed and the sophisticated, coordinated attempts of criminals to target the system. (Photo: Shutterstock)

With Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits in record numbers, unemployment insurance fraud in the U.S. has reached dramatic levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Labor Department inspector general’s office estimates more than $63 billion has been paid out improperly through fraud or errors since March 2020. Not only can unemployment fraud result in a loss for the victim, but it may also increase employer contribution rates.

Using phishing scams and database breaches, criminals have used compromised personal identifying information to target billions of dollars in unemployment aid in the U.S., with identity theft victims numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Similarly, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received hundreds of identity theft reports linked to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

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