NORTH ADAMS -- Residents filing online unemployment claims are being advised by state officials to avoid using any website other than the official Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) website.
The state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) recently issued an alert warning residents of several fake websites promising quick turnaround times on unemployment insurance claims for a fee, as well as an email phishing scam targeting businesses. The alert states the fraudulent emails, which request verification of a company's information, include an attachment that releases a computer virus when opened.
State reps. Gailanne M. Cariddi, D-North Adams, and William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, also issued a joint release Friday warning residents of the fake websites and emails.
"We really want to get the word out to as many people as possible, as we have a number of people from our districts who are interested in getting their claims filed quickly, especially with the recent delays," Cariddi said Monday, referring to delays experienced by local residents filing claims through the DUA's online-only claim-filing system.
Several of the sites also reportedly ask for detailed personal information, such as social security numbers, or contain "terms of agreement" language allowing for the sale of personal information to third-party marketing groups.
"It's really shameful there are websites out there targeting individuals, especially those in need of real services from their state," Cariddi said. "I'm very pleased to see the state is taking immediate action investigating and shutting down these scam websites."
Cariddi added, "The only official way to apply for unemployment in the state is through the official DUA UI Online website [https://uionline.detma.org/], by phone or at BerkshireWorks in Pittsfield."
The EOLWD website recommends residents take the following precautions when applying for unemployment benefits online:
n Do not enter your information if the website looks suspicious, asks for your credit card information or charges a fee.
n Do contact DUA TeleClaim or send an email if you are not sure of the website or need help filing your claim online.
n The EOLWD recommends employers use the following precautions to identify fraudulent emails:
n DUA email does not include any attachments. Fake emails have a serious virus attached to them and opening the attachment or clicking a link in the email could infect your computer or network.
n DUA will never ask you to respond to an email requesting personal/business information, but rather instruct you to log into UI Online.
n DUA will always list out its full web address in an email.
n If you're not sure the email is from DUA, do not open or respond to the email.