BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has released information about the impact of a national unemployment fraud scam on Massachusetts claimants.

The state reports that fraudsters have been using stolen personal information from earlier, unrelated commercial data breaches, and continue to attempt to file large numbers of false claims through the Massachusetts unemployment system.

DUA has strengthened its identity verification process which has caused delays in payment for some claimants. DUA has also been working with state and federal law enforcement agencies, municipalities, and state constituent services to address the national unemployment fraud and recover fraudulent payments. They are using information from persons reporting that their identity was fraudulently used to file a claim and claims that have failed the verification process.

According to the DUA, their call center has 670 employees answering approximately 16,000 calls per day, with another 300 people who work verifying claims. The DUA customer service department can be reached at (877) 626-6800. The highest traffic hours for the DUA call center are on Monday mornings.

From April 2020 through January 2021, DUA reports:

  • Unemployment claims submitted to Unemployment Insurance Online (UIO)
    • Total claims submitted: 1.2 million
    • Total claims eligible to be paid: 957,000
    • Total claims denied: 261,000
    • Total appeals pending: 28,000
  • Unemployment claims submitted to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
    • Total claims submitted: 946,000
    • Total claims eligible to be paid: 282,000
    • Total claims denied: 627,000
    • Total appeals pending: 40,000
  • Claims identified as fraud due to reporting by individuals
    • PUA and UIO: 156,000
  • Issued payments confirmed to be fraudulent
    • PUA and UIO: $219,000
  • Additional issued payments which are potentially fraudulent
    • PUA and UIO: $468 million
  • Recovered fraudulent payments
    • PUA and UIO: $252 million
  • Total confirmed payments to unemployment claimants
    • PUA and UIO: $15.7 billion
  • Fraudulent payments prevented from disbursement
    • PUA and UIO: $19.2 billion