The web Browser you are currently using is unsupported, and some features of this site may not work as intended. Please update to a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Edge to experience all features Michigan.gov has to offer.
UIA reminds Michiganders to be vigilant about shielding personal information from scammers
November 17, 2023
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is urging vigilance in protecting personal information and images after agency staff stopped fraudsters who tried to file a claim for jobless benefits after scamming someone out of a selfie photo. The reminder to be aware of scams criminals use to steal identities comes as the UIA marks International Fraud Awareness Week in collaboration with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA).
“Never give out your personal information to random callers or by responding to emails or text messages,” said UIA Director Julia Dale. “Scammers have no shame and will do anything to get you to fall for their nefarious schemes. UIA remains vigilant in verifying the identities of anyone who files a claim and if we find fraud, we won’t hesitate to turn over to law enforcement any information we have that will bring bad actors to justice.”
In the recent scam identified by UIA staff, a caller purporting to be from the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) called a Michigan resident and convinced the person to email to them a selfie. The scammers already had other personal identifying information such as address, date of birth, and Social Security number. The fraudster then used the information and the photo to file a UIA claim in Michigan.
UIA staff used robust proprietary and collaborative tools to immediately confirm the information in the unemployment benefits application was fraudulent. Staff made sure no payments were made, the victim was located, and UIA provided all the resources needed to protect the resident’s private information.
5 tips to avoid identity theft
Not sending a selfie to an unknown email address is just one way to avoid being the victim of fraud and identity theft. Here are some others:
- Keep your personal information secure.
- Monitor your credit reports and all transactions on bank and credit card statements.
- Never send any information or respond to a suspicious email addresses.
- Be alert for phishing and spoofing scams.
- Use strong passwords and add authentication steps.
Keep your UIA account secure
Besides being aware of the many ways scammers try to steal information, it also important to protect your unemployment insurance account, and NASWA provided these helpful tips:
- Create a strong password using upper- and lower-case, symbols, and numbers. Change it often.
- Review your MiWAM account often to verify no one has changes your information.
- Don’t click on a link in an email or text with threats that your UI benefits will be affected or terminated.
- Use only secure internet connections or virtual private networks (VPN).
- Keep computer devices updated and add anti-virus and anti-malware software.
- Secure their UI account with a strong password and multi-factor authentication.
- Educate employees about identity theft and cybercrime.
- Verify requests for employee information.
- Review and monitor unemployment insurance claims information.
- Ensure their MiWAM account is accurate.
If there is a suspicion of fraud or identity theft, contact the UIA immediately and submit the information through your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account.
This video explains how to report incidents to the UIA.
UIA’s aggressive anti-fraud measures
The reminders about how to protect personal information are part of the UIA’s continuing focus on fighting fraud as it transforms the agency into a national leader for fast, fair, and fraud-free service. UIA has been aggressive in launching new efforts to stop criminal activity, including:
- Appointing a Legal Advisor and creating the Legal and Compliance Bureau to leverage collaborative anti-fraud practices for pursuing bad actors.
- Launching the design and implementation of a new computer system to replace the aging MiWAM computer system. The new system, expected to be fully functional in 2025, will include robust anti-fraud measures.
- Collaborating with the Michigan Attorney General’s office as well as local, state and federal law enforcement to bring bad actors to justice and combat fraud.
- Implementing new ethics and security clearance policies for employees and contractors.
To date, through the efforts of the UIA’s Fraud and Investigative Division’s regulation agents, 158 individuals have been charged with fraud, 80 have been convicted, and 51 sentenced.
New ways to help workers, employers
Besides a commitment to fighting fraud, Director Dale is committed to modernizing the UIA through improved customer service and providing new resources for workers and employers.
- The new UIA Claimant Roadmap at Michigan.gov/UIAClaimantRoadmap is an easy-to-follow, six-step guide to applying for and understanding benefits. New First-time Filer Coaching Sessions provide in a group setting online, web-based guidance to completing an application and qualifying for payments.
- The UIA Community Connect program provides hands-on expertise from staff in 10 regions across the state on navigating the unemployment insurance application process. They also connect workers or employers to resources within the UIA and provide outreach and education.
- Six new advocates have been added to the UIA’s Advocacy Program and their pay boosted by 30 percent. The program provides free, legal advice to claimants and employers who appeal UIA determinations.
- A planned Employer Help Center will serve as a centralized hub to efficiently manage the most common unemployment tax and claim issues.
- Outside stakeholders have open lines of communication to the UIA through the Modernization Workgroup, created in January. The workgroup includes members who represent labor, the business community, and jobless advocates to advise the agency on significant improvements in how it can better serve Michigan’s workers and employers.
Need help with a claim or have questions?
Speak with an Agent
Call Customer Service
Chat with Ava
Schedule an in-person, phone or virtual meeting at Michigan.gov/UIA
Our chat bot can answer many questions at Michigan.gov/UIA