Texas Workforce Commission sees increase in fraudulent unemployment claims

HOUSTON – The Texas Workforce Commission said the number of suspicious unemployment claims reached hundreds of thousands last year.

The increase comes as the state handles more unemployment claims because of the pandemic.

“The fraudsters hope to hide in plain sight within these millions of legitimate claims that are coming through,” said James Bernsen, deputy communications director for TWC.

The agency received 1,142 suspicious claims in 2019 out of a total of approximately 656,800. The total number of suspicious claims in 2020 was 234,268 from approximately 4.1 million total, TWC said.

The increase in suspicious claims is due to identity theft, the state said.

“They’re targeting every state because they think this is their one chance to take all these IDs they’ve been stealing for many years and cash in,” he said.

A Sugar Land resident said he recently received a letter from TWC saying someone claimed unemployment in his name even though he did not file a claim. He’s currently on disability.

“I’m working to make sure it gets resolved and that the people claiming it hopefully end up in jail,” George said.