PUA Fraud FAQs

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Fraud

On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act created a new temporary federal program called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

As reported across the nation, fraudsters are targeting state UI systems in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic through various schemes and identity theft. Bad actors are using stolen personal information from sources outside of the department, such as from massive external data breaches like the Equifax breach, to apply for benefits and attempt to route payments to their own bank accounts.

If you received a letter regarding a claim for PUA and you did NOT apply for benefits, please follow the instructions on the letter to report potential identity theft at PUA.HAWAII.GOV. The DLIR is not able to detect how or when your identity was stolen and cannot prevent it from being used elsewhere. If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov. You may also check to see if your email has been breached by visiting https://haveibeenpwned.com.

Identity Theft FAQs

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personally identifiable information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers. Criminals use this information to impersonate someone else, usually for financial gain.

What is unemployment impostor fraud?

When someone illegally files an unemployment claim using another person’s personal and employment information.

How do I know if I’m a victim of an impostor?

Many people find out when they receive an unexpected letter from Unemployment Insurance (UI). Many also find out when UI notifies an employer that a current employee has applied for unemployment benefits and the employer then notifies the employee.

What should I do if I suspect I’m a victim of an impostor?

Report the claim at https://lbr.force.com/PUASupport/s/contactsupport as well as at www.identitytheft.gov.

What will happen after I have reported the identity theft to the department?

A hold will be placed to prevent additional payments from being made.

What should employers do for their employees who experience impostor fraud?

  • Immediately notify the department by calling 586-8947
  • Immediately notify their employees about the fraudulent claim
  • Encourage them to report at identitytheft.gov
  • Alternatively to calling, fax (808) 586-8929 or write to: DLIR Employer Services, Rm 437 Honolulu, HI 96813

What if the impostor receives PUA benefits, am I responsible for paying back the money?

No. If the investigation finds that you were a victim of an impostor, you will not need to pay back the money.

What if I’ve been a victim of an impostor, can I still apply for benefits if I need to?

Yes. We’ll be able to distinguish your legitimate claim from a fraudulent one.

Additional Information

DCCA webpage on Identity Theft

Office of Consumer Protection webpage on free weekly credit reports

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) comprehensive website

FTC Webpage: Know Your Rights

FTC Webpage: Warning Signs of Identity Theft

FTC Webpage: What to do When Information is Lost or Stolen

FTC Webpage: What to do When Information is Lost or Stolen

FTC PDF Brochure (40 pages): Identity Theft: A Recovery Plan

FTC Video on Identity Theft