Alpena- A wave of identity theft swept up Michigan earlier this year and the focus centered on taking advantage of unemployment insurance benefits. Officials from both Michigan State Police and the Talent Investment Agency spoke about the dangers of this issue and how residents in Northeast Michigan can be more vigilant in protecting their identity.
In January of 2017, representatives from the Unemployment Insurance Agency started receiving thousands of calls per week in regards to identity theft. Since January, the number of calls have fallen off drastically but with data breaches becoming a regular trend, authorities are continuing to warn the public about what they share.
The way criminals utilize identities comes from grabbing data like a name, address, and social security number. They can use these pieces to file a claim and gather unemployment benefits.
Steps being taken to combating this identity theft and false filing include new legislation to help strengthen Michigan’s identity theft protection, individuals and employers being able to report identity theft online, restructured investigation divisions, and better coordination between state and federal agencies to seek out these criminals.
The best steps for a resident to protect themselves is by guarding their social security number and tracking their online spending habits. Other ways include shredding important documents, credit cards, and other personal information. If a person receives a UIA 1575C, a form to claim for unemployment, via mail, then their identity may already have been compromised. Businesses should protect their employees personal information and not use a social security number or drivers license to identify their employees on internal documents.
Taking these steps can ensure safety for individuals, families, and businesses.
For information and tips, head over to michigan.gov/uia