L&I Warns of New National Unemployment Benefits Scam While Assuring Authenticity of Recent Email to PUA Claimants

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today reminded residents to remain vigilant against scams as new reports emerge nationally of fraudsters offering cash rewards to access state unemployment benefits.

“As we continue to work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to prevent frauds and scams, please note the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry will never contact you and ask for your personal, private information,” said Secretary Oleksiak. “If you receive a call, email, text, social media message, or other communication seeking information such as your username, password or full Social Security number, do not provide it. We will never ask you for this information.”

The latest scam involves fraudsters engaging in social engineering to commit identity theft by circulating emails and Facebook posts informing recipients they won a prize. When the victim clicks on the link, the attacker has them take steps to tie their identity to the attacker’s login.

L&I does not currently offer assistance to claimants over social media messaging due to the inability to guarantee security and confidentiality, and messages received by “L&I” over social media are most likely fraudulent and should be ignored.

Multiple states, including Pennsylvania, have been inundated with fraudulent unemployment claims, primarily through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which assists out-of-work individuals who are typically ineligible for traditional unemployment compensation. Due to this issue there have been questions about the authenticity of a legitimate email distributed by L&I to PUA claimants between 5:00 and 6:00 PM Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, from the email sender “LI, oucbp-fedp-pua.” This is the account name for UCPUA@pa.gov. The department submitted this communication to all claimants who have emailed UCPUA@pa.gov since March 15 as a follow-up during a special review of emails.

Claimants concerned that this email may be a phishing attempt and hesitant to reply to the sender can provide the requested information directly to UCPUA@pa.gov.

Any PUA claimant with outstanding questions or concerns about their claim is encouraged to submit the following information directly to UCPUA@pa.gov:

  • Full name as it appears on their claim
  • User ID number
  • Last 4 digits of their Social Security number
  • Telephone number
  • Best time to contact by telephone if needed
  • Brief description of the issue on their claim

For more information on identifying fraud, what to do if you believe you have been a victim of fraud, or how to report fraud, visit L&I’s website.