Unemployment scam hits

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By Capt. Jim Burton

Criminals never cease to amaze me. Now comes word from the Attorney General’s Office about another scam, this one targeting those applying for unemployment.

Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a warning to Floridians to be wary of companies offering to file unemployment compensation claims for a fee.

Recent reports from other states indicate consumers have signed up for such services, only to later discover unemployment claims were never filed on their behalf.

Of equal concern is that consumers have also provided their Social Security numbers, thinking they were dealing with a state agency.

Some states have reported that complaints from consumers who have conducted internet searches for “unemployment claims” or similar terms which provided results,  including private companies.

Consumers are then directed to provide their Social Security numbers and receive e-mails from the companies saying their claim is being processed.

Complaints from other states also indicated that consumers were told that for a fee, they could receive help on their resumes, and while terms and conditions were posted on the Web sites, they aren’t always apparent to the consumers.

The Attorney General and The Marion County Sheriff’s Office encourage consumers to be wary of providing information such as Social Security numbers to unknown entities.

Floridians are also reminded that there is no charge for filing for unemployment. The official Florida site for filing for unemployment benefits is http://www.floridajobs.org.

Consumers who believe they may have been victimized by potentially unfair or deceptive practices should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-966-7226 or by visiting the Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.myfloridalegal.com.

Capt. Jim Burton is the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Southwest District Commander. For information, call 402-6060.