Fake Stimulus Relief Outreach (Email & Texts)

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is trying to spread awareness about an incredibly serious scam that is targeting Ohio residents. Many are falling victim to phishing emails or texts that appear to be 100% legitimate messages gathering information for stimulus relief or unemployment benefits; however, these messages are almost indistinguishable from the real messages coming from these agencies which leave victims completely unaware that their information has been compromised.

Then, without the victim’s knowledge, the criminals are creating chaos behind the scenes by applying for various types of financial aid such as disaster relief loans or unemployment benefits and are being granted these funds because they can provide the victim’s Social Security Number.

This is a truly unfortunate but real case about how your employee’s security decisions in their personal life can impact your business, and this is what makes security awareness training fundamental for any business.

Real Impact

This is already a widely impactful issue that we’ve seen with both our clients and other businesses in our local community. They are being contacted by the Ohio Unemployment Office to confirm the unemployment claim that has been filed, but the disturbing part is that both the employer and the employee are unaware a claim had been processed up to this point.

This can be a huge problem in the cases where the claims are actually paid out to the scammer without validation and the victim is then responsible for all taxes and withholdings for the money that was paid out.

What to Do if You Are Affected

Many are contacting the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to resolve the issues, but unfortunately, the rampant spread of this scam is overwhelming the faculty which is causing them to either not respond at all or point the victims in the direction of the police who will only file a report and cannot investigate further.

The only true recommended next step for this scam is to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office to clear up the employer’s responsibility for the payout and ensure the employee is not responsible for the taxes since these appear to be legitimate claims and are linked to the victim’s social security number.

It is recommended to regularly check your credit report to ensure that no one has applied for any financial aid with your information since many people are not alerted to new activity on their account unless you use a third-party service like Credit Karma.

How to Avoid This Scam

Unfortunately, this scam is difficult to remedy after the identity compromise has already taken place which makes this a devastating blow to businesses and residents. The only true protection is proactive End-User Security Awareness Training and Education that heightens people’s awareness of these kinds of scams.

To learn more about the red flags of phishing scams, check out our Tech+ Academy page on Phishing here.

Today’s sophisticated phishing scams are entirely different from the past where emails were riddled with grammar mistakes and outlandish requests. Some of these modern scams take actual logos, templates, and wording from official organizations to make every attempt at tricking the receiver that the message is legitimate.

We believe that security education and training are fundamental, and we provide these services as a part of our comprehensive Managed Services offerings.

Have you been getting calls about unemployment claims or are you concerned for one of your employees?

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