Incidents of identity theft related to unemployment fraud are on the rise. Bad actors are increasingly exploiting the pandemic financially. One scenario is to steal someone’s identity and apply for unemployment benefits in the victim’s name, with the benefits deposited in an account accessible only to the perpetrator. If you have received a notice from the state of Massachusetts about an application for unemployment benefits which you did not file, it is urgent that you notify both the college and the state immediately.  The scheme, which is already affecting members of our community, is detailed in a report from the US Secret Service.

The Massachusetts State Police are aware of this scam, which is widespread across the state and nation. They are vigorously investigating the scheme, but do not yet know how people's information was obtained. They have confirmed, however, that the identity theft did not happen through any Amherst College systems. 

As at other stressful junctures when our attention is elsewhere, we are more susceptible to fraud and other devious schemes, particularly those appearing to be somehow “official” and of unexpected assistance. Be particularly careful of such offers by confirming their validity.  Also, be suspicious of unexpected requests to verify vendor invoices and transaction approvals by phone. Never provide personally-identifiable information (SSN, birthdate, etc.) over the phone to anyone. Likewise, never provide credit card or bank account numbers over the phone to anyone.   
This story from The Springfield Republican explains Massachusetts' response to the scheme in more detail.

Falling for a scam could cost you money and time. Play it safe!  Forward suspicious messages to and/or contact if you have additional concerns.  Watch this page for further information.