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Don’t listen to social media for jobless benefits advice

We completely understand the frustration many Michiganders have experienced trying to get squared away with unemployment benefits.

These are frustrating times, indeed, but on Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Nessel issued a consumer alert on unemployment misinformation on social media.

It has been a struggle for many who are trying to apply for and obtain unemployment benefits. But misinformation can make the situation worse — perhaps even dire. As Nessel’s alert encouraged Michiganders, now is the time to be aware that offers via social media to assist claimants with the benefit process are likely scams.

And that the answers provided to unemployment-related questions may contain misinformation that encourages claimants to commit fraud.

“Our state has seen an unprecedented uptick in unemployment claims as a result of COVID-19. Delays in processing have caused a great deal of frustration for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who are simply doing all they can to make ends meet, but I want to urge residents to stay alert when taking to social media for answers or advice,” Nessel said in the release. “There is no guarantee that these answers have been vetted or that the individuals promising to help can actually do so. Do not under any circumstance pay a fee or offer up your personal information to someone on social media.”

A release from Nessel’s office asked Michiganders to be mindful:

≤ Do not fall for scams: If a post is offering to help you with any portion of the benefit process for a fee, do not fall for it. There is no guarantee that the person behind the post actually intends to assist you or can help you, and you may never receive the services you pay for. In addition, if a user offers to assist you and requests your personal information, do not fall for it. This is likely an attempt to steal your personal information to commit identity theft and obtain the benefits that you are rightfully entitled to.

≤ Inaccurate answers: The information provided on social media has not been vetted and may not be accurate. While the answers may seem to provide quick fixes, you may ultimately be led down the wrong path. This could result in further delays in your receipt of benefits, the denial of benefits and in the case of fraud, administrative or criminal penalties.

Nessel’s office encourages people to ensure they have accurate information and follow the proper channels. Those looking for help can visit the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency’s website. Claimants may also call the UIA Customer Service line at 1-866-500-0017 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and follow the prompts.

For answers to frequently asked questions, visit the UIA online on the michigan.gov website.

We certainly hope people heed the AG’s advice and do not get scammed on top of everything else that’s created angst during the past few months.

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