UIA Alerts Public to SMS Phishing Scam

The agency does not contact applicants via SMS for information or to process payments

If you’ve filed for unemployment benefits and receive a text message claiming to be from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), ignore it – it’s a scam. The UIA does not use text messaging to correspond with applicants.

Agency anti-fraud investigators learned of a recent phishing scheme to attempt to steal money and personal information from Michigan workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The text message is from an out-of-state phone number and provides a link to claim refunds. Do not click on the link. Report it as junk or spam and delete the text.

“Bad actors are constantly using sophisticated methods to try to steal the money you deserve,” said UIA director Julia Dale. “The UIA will not tolerate criminals who try to steal money from hard-working Michiganders. Fighting fraud and providing exemplary customer service are our top priorities. If you suspect anyone of try to obtain your personal information or steal your benefits, let us know immediately.

The UIA communicates with applicants through their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account, letters sent to the current registered address, or by telephone.

“Criminals use genuine government credentials to try to trick consumers into taking action that then allows them to steal from you,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “The first contact can take any form: letter, phone call, e-mail or SMS. Regardless of the form, the goal is the same: to obtain your personal information and steal your money. Do not fall into the trap !

The suspicious text message is from a phone number with an area code of 210, which is in Texas. The post reads in part: “MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY: Your $2,800 deposit is now pending on your profile.” It then asks the recipient to click on a strange link to receive payment. The link is to a fake UIA website.

This is an example of a government impostor scam, which Nessel highlights on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s consumer alerts page.

Here are 10 tips from the UIA to protect your personal information:

  • Carefully review the URL or web page link you receive. If it is not an official Michigan.gov website, do not use it.
  • If you don’t trust a website or information, call UIA Customer Service at 1-866-500-0017 to verify what you see.
  • You should only link to UIA information or services via gov/UIA.
  • The UIA will never ask an applicant to provide usernames, passwords or banking information.
  • The UIA will never ask an applicant to send information to our personal emails.
  • The UIA will never ask an applicant to resend information by SMS.
  • Keep your MiLOGIN and MiWAM information safe, do not provide it to anyone.
  • If someone calls and you are unsure of the intent, hang up and call the UIA at 1-866-500-0017 and ask the staff to send you information through your MiWAM account.
  • If a caller provides information that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. To hang up.
  • Make sure your contact details are up to date should UIA staff need to reach you.

If you suspect fraud or identity theft, report it by clicking the Report Fraud and Identity Theft link on Michigan.gov/UIA and complete a referral form. Be sure to fill in all information and make sure it is up to date. The staff will respond to you as soon as possible. A UIA video explains how to report identity theft.

Stopping fraud is a key priority of Director Dale’s UIA transformation. In the eight months since her appointment as Principal, Principal Dale has:

  • Implemented new policies for employees and contractors, including fingerprinting, criminal background checks and an updated ethics policy.
  • Worked with the Attorney General’s Office to combat agency fraud.
  • Worked closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to bring bad actors to justice. To date, more than 50 people have been charged in connection with fraud cases, 13 have pleaded or been convicted and 6 convicted for their crimes.
  • Created a new user-friendly website and worked with nonprofit partners to improve website access and all other agency interactions with the public.
  • Authorized 55,000 overpayment waivers with more to come. She also obtained from the US Department of Labor a temporary pause on certain collections for those who faced overpayments.
  • Rebuilt the Trust Fund to $1.4 billion (and growing).

The UIA’s What is User Interface Fraud web page at Michigan.gov/UIA explains the many ways the Agency combats fraud, including as a lead partner on the UI fraud response, leveraging tools and resources through the National Integrity Data Center to identify criminals and participating in the Department of Labor’s Tiger Teams initiative to identify anti-fraud best practices .

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