Unemployment benefits fraud
Washington state takes unemployment insurance fraud very seriously. If you have reason to believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your information or used a scam to obtain your private information, please report that to us using the information below.
The fraud-reporting contacts listed here are for Washington state only. (Find out how to report employer tax fraud by visiting our employer tax fraud section)
Report unemployment fraud
Use our secure fraud reporting form to alert us to an imposter claiming benefits under your name.
Information you will need to provide when reporting benefit fraud:
- Your full name
- Last 4 numbers of your Social Security number (never put your full SSN in an email)
- Your address
- Your date of birth
- Brief description of how you found out an imposter-fraud claim was filed using your information
- Please let us know: If an imposter-fraud claim was filed using your information, do you give us permission to deny and cancel it?
Steps you can take if you believe you are a victim of fraud:
- Go to the FTC identity theft website: www.identitytheft.gov for great resources on reporting
- Request your free credit reports via www.annualcreditreport.com and review them for other fraudulent activities
- Go to atg.wa.gov/recovering-identity-theft-or-fraud for additional tips from the Washington State Attorney General
- Learn more about other scams and how to protect yourself on the state's coronavirus website
Fraud can also be reported by phone to the Office of Special Investigations.
Please note: We are receiving an extremely high number of calls and the fastest way to report fraud is with the form above.
Employers can report fraud on behalf of their employees by:
Questions & answers
Q. What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable information, such as Social Security or driver's license numbers. Criminals use this information to impersonate someone else, usually for financial gain.
Q. What is unemployment imposter fraud?
When someone illegally files an unemployment claim using another person’s personal and employment information.
Q. What should I do if I suspect I’m a victim of unemployment imposter fraud?
If you have reason to believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your information, report it immediately to ESD. If you are a victim:
- You will not have to repay the money.
- You will still be able to apply for unemployment benefits it you need to.
Q. What is ESD doing to prevent unemployment imposter fraud?
- Working with other states and the federal government to cross match data to detect fraud.
- Has hired additional fraud investigators and continues to use standard and creative information security practices.
- Has delayed all payments to all claimants by 48 to 72 hours to allow time to root out fraudulent claims.
Q. How can I avoid unemployment scams?
- Be aware of false websites. Use only ESD’s official website: ESD.WA.GOV.
- Applying for unemployment benefits is free. ESD will never ask for a payment to process your claim.
- Be wary of solicitors asking for your personal information online or by phone. ESD will ask you for information through official correspondence and through your ESD eServices account. If we call you, you can ask the agents to identify themselves.
Q. What should I do if I’m a victim of identity theft?
- Go to the Attorney General’s Recovering from identity theft or fraud web page and follow the instructions.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at identitytheft.gov or call 877-ID-THEFT. In addition, the FTC recommends that you:
- File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports periodically to ensure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
- Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Request your free credit reports via annualcreditreport.com and review them for other fraudulent activities.
Office of Special Investigations
Employment Security Department's Office of Special Investigations is committed to preserving the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance program. Our office conducts many types of audits throughout the year on unemployment claims to ensure the accuracy of benefit payments made. Individuals found to have committed fraud are assessed penalties (RCW 50.20.070), are required to repay the amount identified as overpaid (RCW 50.20.190), and are subject to possible state or federal criminal prosecution.
We are very interested in the information you provide to us about fraud. However, we cannot provide information to you about the action we take on any allegation reported to our office unless you are an individual defined in RCW 50.13 and WAC 192-15.
State regulations prohibit the disclosure of information contained in the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Program. There will be no further communication from our office unless one of our investigators contacts you.
Learn more about unemployment insurance fraud and the associated penalties in the video below.