ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — The Maryland Department of State Police and the Maryland Department of Labor warn that there is an increase in unemployment insurance related fraud cases and other scams around the region.

The scams involve targeting individuals, vulnerable populations, charities and local, state and national government agencies.

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This includes a scheme where random citizens got multiple unemployment insurance debit cards that they never applied for from the state and other states.

Another recent fraud involved gift cards targeting the elderly. They were often told they needed buy gift cards to use as payments for a government agency bill, a ransom, utility bill, tech support or to avoid an arrest.

The scammers would tell people they had to go to a retail outlet, buy the physical gift cards and then give them the PIN numbers on the cards.

Some other frauds people should be aware of target Medicare recipients, lotteries, banks, charities, people looking for COVID-19 vaccinations and some claiming they were part of the Census.

The Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance said they will never request or require you to pay for assistance with unemployment insurance, especially not through apps such as Venmo or Cashapp. They also never help people through social media platforms, or arrange for a “fact-finding interview” over Zoom, BlueJeans, Google Hangout Meets or Skype.

They also warn that anyone who asks for a bank account number or credit card over e-mail, or tries to provide assistance through a text message or send links is not the MDUI.

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They will never ask for your BEACON password over e-mail, and all e-mails that are legitimate will come from a @marylandgov address.

MDUI said that people should not provide any sensitive information related to your Maryland unemployment insurance claim by e-mail unless it is to a @maryland.gov e-mail address.

They also warn people to be aware of scam pages and verify their social media pages, as well as to not respond to messages from accounts claiming to be the Department of Labor.

If you think you are being scammed for identity theft, you should make a police report when your bank or other business requires you to do so, you know the person who stole your identity, or make the report to your local police department.

Tips to protect yourself from scams in general:

  • Do not give out your personal information to someone you do not know.
  • Store personal information in a safe place.
  • Do not carry your social security card in your wallet.
  • Collect mail every day and put a hold on it during extended travel.
  • Use security features on your smartphone and computer.
  • Use complex passwords.
  • Do not use gift cards to pay the IRS or Social Security, tech support, a family member in trouble, ransom or to avoid arrest or deportation or to prevent your utilities from being turned off.

Use this link to help report fraud that is not reported to the police:

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If you suspect a fraud, contact your local police department. You may also report unemployment fraud by visiting MDunemployment.com.

CBS Baltimore Staff