New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says cases of identity theft have surged during the coronavirus pandemic, including people trying to get benefits under someone else's name.

Kristine Bellino/WIBX News
Kristine Bellino/WIBX News

In a newly released report, DiNapoli says complaints to the Federal Trade Commission are up 85 percent from the previous year with credit card fraud leading the way with other complaints about people’s names being used to file unemployment benefits with the New York State Department of Labor or to get prescription drugs or obtain medical services and insurance.

The Comptroller’s Office says the full impact of the pandemic problem is not yet known and New Yorkers should be aware of scams and guard against them.

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The Federal Trade Commission reports of New York State’s over 3,600 complaints compiled for 2020 through mid-March of this year, about two-thirds were related to information misused to try to get a government benefit like unemployment or economic relief checks.  Many times, the person whose name has been used doesn't know about it until they get a letter from the Department of Labor.

Don Morgan, one of our Townsquare, Binghamton reporters, found himself one of those targeted by unemployment claim identity theft. Read his account here.

The DOL said it identified over 1.1 million fraudulent unemployment claims, stopping over $12.3 billion dollars in stolen benefits.

If you have been notified of an unemployment claim filed in your name that you did not submit, you can report it by logging on to the Department of Labor reporting site here.

The Comptroller advises residents to only carry the credit and bank cards you need, use strong passwords and change those passwords frequently and check all bank and credit card statements carefully.

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