Web scam targets the unemployed

Filing for unemployment online? Beware of a consumer scam that preys on unemployed workers by offering to help file their claim – for a fee.

That’s what happened to Josielu Tolentino of Pasco.

“I thought it was the state Web site, but was surprised that it cost me money to file for unemployment,” Tolentino said. “One victim is enough.”

The scam works like this.

Unemployed workers must search for job openings as a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits. One of the places they search for openings is through a state Web site, go2worksource.com.

If they mistype it as just 2worksource.com, they land on a Web site that charges them $9.95 to file their unemployment claims. The claimants then receive an e-mail from “Unemployment Advisors” confirming that the fee has been charged to their credit cards.

The state Employment Security Department is unable to determine if unemployment claims from this Web site have, in fact, been filed unless the claimant calls the department to check.

Officials note that several Web sites crop up each year offering to help unemployed workers obtain unemployment benefits, often for a fee. These sites may not be illegal, but they can be confusing, inaccurate and unnecessary.

“People who have been laid off can’t afford to be spending money on services they can get from us for free,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee.

To ensure that claims are filed appropriately and to avoid delays, Employment Security officials advise unemployed workers to always use the official esd.wa.gov Web site to file their claims. The site also contains extensive information about how to qualify and apply for benefits. Best of all, it’s fast, secure and free.

Anyone who has paid a third party to file an unemployment claim may contact the state Attorney General’s Consumer Resource Center at 800-551-4636 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays or file a complaint online at www.atg.wa.gov.



Employment Security Web site: www.esd.wa.gov

WorkSource Web site: www.go2worksource.com