Police receive reports of fraudulent unemployment benefit claims

John Richmeier

The Leavenworth Police Department has received a few reports of people’s identities being stolen and used to fraudulently file for unemployment benefits.

And Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens is cautioning people not to ignore notifications from the state government regarding unemployment benefits.

Kitchens said people who have not filed for unemployment benefits may be tempted to ignore documents they receive from the state regarding such benefits. But he said it is important they take a look at the information in case they have been the victim of identity theft.

“Do not ignore that,” he said.

If people receive notification about benefits they did not seek, they need to report that their personal information has been used fraudulently.

Kitchens said the Leavenworth Police Department has received a few reports of local residents’ information being used to fraudulently file for unemployment benefits. He said the reports were related to additional unemployment benefits that were offered through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The law provided an additional $600 per week for a person receiving unemployment benefits.

The $600 weekly benefit expired at the end of July. But President Donald Trump signed an executive order that can allow a person receiving unemployment benefits to have an additional $400 per week.

Not all states have signed up for this new program, which is being administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that her administration will apply for the program.

Kitchens said people can protect themselves from identity theft by periodically changing their passwords for the programs they use.

“As hard as it is, you can’t use the same password for everything,” he said.

He said people also need to be knowledgeable about the settings for apps they use.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR