Combatting Fraud: Protecting Texans in the Era of COVID-19

When unemployment claims spike, fraudsters strike. How TWC protects you.

Unemployment insurance fraud is a serious problem that can potentially delay out-of-work Texans from getting the benefits they need and betray the taxpayers of Texas. Fortunately, TWC has strong protections to identify, track, and lock down fraud attempts, protecting Texas workers and the integrity of the Texas unemployment system. In most cases, we stop the fraud before a single dollar in benefits are paid out.

Historically, when a high-profile event causes mass unemployment in Texas, nefarious individuals see an opportunity to try to defraud the taxpayers. Most commonly, this fraud takes the form of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when nefarious actors steal someone’s identity in order to gain access to the victim’s unemployment benefits payments.

TWC identifies this kind of fraud in one of two ways: through its own internal systems monitoring and tips from employees or employers about suspicious activity. When this fraud is discovered, TWC locks down the account to stop money from going out.

How often does it happen?

Generally, fraud numbers are less than 1 percent of total claims. In fiscal year 2017, TWC identified and locked 2,023 claims for fraud concerns. In 2018, with the record-breaking number of disaster unemployment claims from Hurricane Harvey, TWC found and locked 7,973 claims.

This year, with the massive increase in COVID-19 claims, TWC has identified and locked nearly 12,500 claims. But this is still only 0.2 percent of the 5.8 million claims Texas has seen this year.

How does identity theft occur?

In almost every case, identities are stolen somewhere outside of TWC. That is why it is important that everyone protect their private information and not recycle passwords.

What can you do when you suspect you’re a victim of fraud?

Contact TWC immediately at our Fraud and Program Abuse Hotline 800-252-3642, or through our online fraud submission portal here. Bear in mind, though fraud tips are investigated immediately, you may not hear back right away.

With such a large increase in the volume of UI claims and corresponding fraud, TWC has prioritized investigation over notification, in order to stop fraud in its tracks and protect the integrity of the UI trust fund. Nonetheless, TWC is hiring additional agents to improve response times. For more information about identity theft fraud, see TWC’s fraud web page

What can you do if your account is locked incorrectly?

Because TWC takes fraud cases seriously, occasionally we block legitimate claims out of abundance of caution and send a contact request to verify your information. If your account is blocked, you can also use the same fraud web link and phone number above to contact us. Verifying information can be submitted through the portal, and once we have established that the claimant is indeed not the victim of identity theft, the fraud block is removed so they can access their benefits.

Other fraud prevention tips:

You can help us prevent fraud and protect your identity. If you are contacted about your benefits, remember that a TWC specialist will NEVER ask for your:

  • Credit card
  • Full bank account number
  • Fee payment

If someone asks for that information, you are encountering fraud. Report fraud using the link above.

Unemployment insurance is a contract between Texas and the workers of the Lone Star State. We can all play a part in protecting that promise by taking proactive steps to stop fraud in its tracks to ensure that the people of Texas can continue to get the benefits they need.