Before you throw away that unexpected envelope from the Mass Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), you need to be aware of a new identity theft scam related to COVID-19 unemployment claims.

We recently became aware of letters from the DUA indicating eligibility and a monetary determination have been showing up in the mailboxes of people who have not filed for, nor are currently collecting unemployment. The scary part is that the letters are legitimately from DUA, but if you haven’t filed, it means that a scammer has filed using your information and is banking on you throwing away that envelope without opening it. 

If this happens, the criminal can log on as “you” every week and request the funds be issued on debit cards. You would have no way of knowing until tax time, when you will have to prove that you never received unemployment benefits, and/or if later deemed ineligible, be required to pay the money back.

Like many scams, the perpetrators are hoping that you will ignore the unanticipated communication so that they can steal your identity and go undetected long enough to make some money and ruin your credit.

The lesson here is: Open your mail. Even if it looks like junk mail, the minute or so it takes to open the envelope and scan the contents is nothing compared to the time you might have to spend later on unraveling the damage and reinstating your good name and credit.