Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – Texas is part of a broader trend across the nation where ID thieves are targeting various state's Unemployment Benefits Programs to fraudulently file claims on behalf of unknowing citizens. As a result, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is encouraging all Texans to protect themselves against identity (ID) theft in light of a wave of criminal elements attempting to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance benefits from Texans.
Although no TWC systems have been breached, criminal elements are using identities stolen from Texans in an attempt to perpetuate fraud.
An estimated one in 10 Americans have had their identities stolen, according to the Center for Victim Research. The most common ways are data breaches, hacking and phishing.
A growing danger is also the hacking of cell phones and other portable devices. While many people have strong security on their computers, they may not have these protections on their cell phones and tablets.
The best ways to protect yourself from hacking and stop ID thieves in their tracks are:
- Monitor your credit regularly.
- Install and use antivirus and antispyware software.
- Protect private data – especially social security numbers – and never give it out to anyone unless absolutely necessary. Legitimate organizations that need this data, like the IRS, will not call, email or text you to ask for it.
- When in doubt, ask questions. Ask why the organization needs it, how they will protect it, if there is an alternative identifier that can be used instead, and if the organization can use only the last 4 digits of the SSN.
- Track the bills you owe and their bill dates. If you stop getting a bill, it might be a sign someone has changed the billing address.
- Review all bills, charges and bank statements to look for anomalies.
- Check your credit reports.
- Consider using identity monitoring services.
The Texas Workforce Commission will investigate every unemployment benefit claim to confirm identity and to lock accounts that are fraudulent.