(BPT) – Many people around the U.S. are relying on unemployment insurance assistance as the country battles the pandemic and associated economic effects. As unemployment has risen, fraudsters have been targeting consumers to steal unemployment insurance benefits. They do this by taking personally identifiable information (PII) that cybercriminals have posted on the dark web, stolen from unsuspecting consumers or gained from past data breaches.
Once fraudsters have this information, which can include a victim’s name, address, Social Security number and driver license number, they falsely apply to a state’s unemployment insurance program to register for unemployment insurance benefits. These benefits are typically distributed via direct deposit or prepaid debit cards for those without bank accounts. Once a fraudster has access to the stolen funds, they can use a prepaid payment account service and its mobile app to cash out or make purchases — in-store or online — for items like