The Public Eye

printed 04/02/2021

I have been laid off for some time now, according to an official-looking document that came to the office this week, notifying me that I was filing for benefits.

Naturally, I was shocked at this unfortunate turn of events, considering that I did not have the decency to inform myself — way back in December, the form says — that I was letting myself go for a spell.

Further, I expressed no sympathy for myself, cruel and heartless individual that I am, nor did I promise to give myself a call to return when things were looking up, probably in May.

Even worse, the betrayal, the disloyalty and discourtesy that I exhibited in this process makes me want to punch myself in the nose, and I would, were it not for the fact that I undoubtedly would file charges against myself for self-assault.

That is how I see it, after receiving not one, but two official-looking “Claimant and Employer Information” forms by regular mail on Monday.

When I say official-looking, this document contained significant personal and office information, right down to the telephone extension of our in-house Minister of Finance.

As it turns out, however, we were the would-be victims of the raging unemployment scam that has been raging across the country and has been siphoning off millions of dollars in fraudulent claims.

And we’re not the only ones in this community to experience this, as I discovered when I called the bank to make sure my personal accounts had not been compromised.

They weren’t, because the bank is extra cautious in normal circumstances, but is now on even higher alert for unauthorized activity, after some of its own people also were “laid off” without their knowledge.

But here’s a bigger problem, and it’s not funny: trying to get information on this attempted fraud is almost impossible.

Phone calls to the state unemployment office these days result in a series of transfers within the network until you are eventually directed to a line that no one answers.

I suppose they can’t help it, since they’ve been pretty tied up with all kinds of claims since last March.

So, here’s what you do if this happens to you: report this attempted fraud to the state employment office through its website. It’s easy to find, but a little jumbled up when you get there, as all “user-friendly” government websites tend to be.

Also log in to one of the three credit bureaus, Experian, Transunion or Equifax, check your credit score and file a fraud report that will stick to your free account for a year. Any one of these will do, because they share information.

Most of all, understand that just because a document looks official doesn’t mean it is, so be skeptical. And finally, stay tuned in for any information that could help identify anyone who’s involved in this scam, because if we find one of these characters, we’ll call the police ... eventually.

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