Labor Department calling unemployment applicants from private numbers

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Pedestrian uses her phone while wearing a face mask in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — In an effort to connect with New Yorkers who have submitted unfinished or only partially completed applications for unemployment compensation, the state’s Department of Labor says it will call those individuals.

Calls from the DOL appear as a private number or “Private Caller” from official labor department call centers because some agents and staffers are telecommuting. The Department says it will call back if someone misses a call.

“I want to encourage New Yorkers to answer these calls so we can complete your application and connect you with the benefits you deserve,” Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “To prevent fraud, anyone calling from the Department of Labor will verify their identity by providing the date you filed your Unemployment Insurance application and the type of claim you filed.”

The proactive Call Back Initiative comes even as many official channels — from local law enforcement to federal agencies — routinely warn against accepting calls from or transacting at all with private numbers from people who say they represent the government.

Unfortunately, scammers who pretend to represent government agencies routinely rely on bait and switch schemes, extracting important information from individuals who don’t realize the fraud at hand.

A formerly fool-proof defense against a con of this sort would be calling back the department at an official number rather than giving out any information over the phone. Without being able to use that technique to verify the nature of the call, the initiative potentially leaves many vulnerable to being exploited.

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