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What you need to know about a nationwide unemployment email scam

Posted at 8:21 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 21:21:03-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Around the country, an email is using the name "unemployment programs" to lure people into giving up their personal information.

Emails hardly come any more generic than this, so you could easily assume this was the real deal. It may have the official acronyms like “dol” for the Department of Labor or “pua” for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, but that’s exactly where Darrell Elliott says the red flags began.

Elliott is a cybersecurity expert with PC Repair Network in Nashville and tells us your first step should be to do a simple search of the website this email is claiming to be sent from. If nothing comes up then you have your first answer.

The second step would be to look closely for anything that makes it appear as if there’s a sense of urgency to verify information or click on certain links.

“There are people out there that will want to take advantage of your waiting period, your urgency to get this, so you should be on the lookout for this,” Elliott said.

Among all the other red flags was the fact that there was no mention of “Jobs4TN.” That’s the website you should recognize if you’ve filed for unemployment in Tennessee before. If this was a legitimate email concerning your benefits, state unemployment official Chris Cannon says this is one thing you can’t leave out.

Say the state ever needs more information from you, the message will say you need to log into your claim and make the change on the Jobs4TN site. The message will also come from a Jobs4TN email.

”Don’t ever go to a system that looks unfamiliar to you because everything you’ve done to this point, should be on a familiar system. So this new system should be a big red flag,” Cannon said.

If you can help it, don’t click on the email at all. If you’re curious and have to see it for yourself, at the very least avoid clicking on any of the links inside. Elliott says they can open gateways to your personal information you won’t know is stolen until it’s too late.

"You’re talking about bank accounts, social security numbers. All that information that makes up your livelihood pretty much could be compromised in a second," Elliott said.

While fraudulent activity since the pandemic has created issues nationwide, Cannon says it hasn’t been as widespread of a problem in Tennessee.

He says the state has yet to receive notice of any Tennesseans falling victim to this scheme. The emails also appear to be sent at random and state officials say thieves are hoping you’re one of the many waiting for a response on your claim.