Consumer Alert: Scammers Target Unemployed

If you paid $20 to file your unemployment benefits, you've been ripped off.

"They're preying on people who are not in a position to pay additional fees," says Susan Corbin, deputy director and chief of staff for the Dept. of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG).

DELEG warns: Jobless workers, beware.

The latest website to offer a pre-paid Visa card for people who have their payments deposited directly onto the card, through their company, is www.unemploymentdepartment.us. A file-for-fee, direct deposit operation that's unnecessary and worrisome, says Corbin.

"You do not need to do that," Corbin says. "The state works with a bank and people have the option either of having their money directly deposited in their accounts, or onto a debit card that works with the state of Michigan."

Corbin says the unemployed should steer clear of that and thousands of other websites that advertise on search engines like Google and Yahoo, that offer to file unemployment benefits for you, for up to $20.

"People should not pay to have somebody file their unemployment benefits for them," says Corbin. "At these sites, people are asked to give personal information, social security numbers, and bank accounts, things like that."

Corbin warns that could potentially lead to identity theft or, at the very least, a hefty price tag. And as if that's not bad enough, using unofficial websites could mean waiting longer to receive your check.

"If you go to a website not affiliated with the state of Michigan, it could delay your benefits as well," Corbin says.

The official website to file for unemployment is: www.michigan.gov/uia.


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