PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Arizona Department of Economic Security is asking people who receive unemployment benefits cards with other people's names to report the incident to DES.

CBS 5 Investigates first reported on this problem in September, after being contacted by viewers who received multiple DES cards at their addresses, but bearing the names of strangers.

"Nobody that lives here has applied for unemployment," said Victoria Coursey, who received ten envelopes from DES at her rental home.

Since then, dozens of people have reported to CBS 5 Investigates that they received benefits cards with other people's names.

A source within the US Postal Service told CBS 5 Investigates that thieves have stolen the cards from mailboxes across the Valley. Postal workers are now diverting cards to the Postal Inspector, when they know the name on the card doesn't match the address.

A spokesperson from DES said the only way to access unemployment funds is through the DES-issued debit cards. So there is no "back door" way to access the funds from an account without the card.

"Fraudsters are using phishing scams, previous corporate data breaches and other tactics to collect information from individuals across the country and file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. In this current phase of fraudulent activity, criminals are taking advantage of the federal program by inputting randomly selected, in-state addresses to bypass fraud identifiers," stated Brett Bezio, who is the deputy press secretary at DES.

Bezio said people who receive fraudulent cards should report the incident to DES, then destroy the cards.

You can access the DES fraud portal here, or call the fraud hotline at 1-(800) 251-2436.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
 
 

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