The Montana Department of Labor & Industry has advised Montanans to protect their personal information in response to an increase in reported criminal activity regarding Unemployment Insurance claim fraud.

Public Information Officer Lauren Lewis said with so many new recipients and so much money involved, that fraud has become a bigger problem than ever.

“We’ve seen a significant rise in the amount of impostor fraud,” said Lewis. “That is where bad actors apply for unemployment insurance benefits using someone else’s identity and information. That can be stolen from a variety of different ways outside of our agency.”

Lewis said you may even receive a phone call from an impostor looking to steal your identity.

“We are encouraging Montanans that with these lines and unemployment insurance claims with enhanced benefits that these bad actors may pose as department representatives and then contact them and attempt to obtain their personal information.”

Lewis said the Department of Labor and Industry is ramping up their investigative efforts to stop this identity and unemployment insurance benefit thefts.

“We’re working hard to mitigate this and have implemented additional steps to help protect Montanans’ personal information and combat this by increasing the number of investigators on our fraud investigation team,” she said. “We’re also cross-matching data with other states and departments across the country to detect fraud activity.”

The Department of Labor and Industry is encouraging those that believe they may be a victim of impostor fraud to report to this address immediately.