Web Sites Exploiting Unemployed, Oklahoma AG Says

March 18, 2009

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Jon Brock, executive director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission(OESC), are warning consumers about scams aimed at Oklahomans who may have fallen on hard times.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has received reports from consumers about Web sites that promise to provide unemployment-related services, such as assistance filling out unemployment paperwork. Many of these Web sites promise assistance if users pay a fee, despite the fact that assistance is already available through OESC at no charge. In addition, consumers’ personal information may be at risk with these scams, the officials say.

OESC is a major partner in Workforce Oklahoma. Workforce Oklahoma centers are located across the state and provide a variety of services for free, such as assistance with job placement, job searches, skill upgrading, resumes, training providers and career navigation. In-person help with unemployment claims is also available at select Workforce Oklahoma centers across the state. All services are available at no cost to customers.

The attorney general’s office is reviewing the complaints received by OESC for criminal or civil action, but in the meantime, Edmondson wants consumers to be cautious.

“Some of these Web sites ask consumers to provide specific personal data, including a social security number,” Edmondson said. “Consumers should always be wary of providing their personal and financial data to unknown entities. This is especially true of the Internet.

“Additionally, at least one of these Web sites gives the appearance of being hosted by a government entity. The fine print states that it is in fact a privately run Web site, but consumers must read the fine print to get that information,” Edmondson said.

Edmondson and Brock want consumers to know that unemployment help is available. Unemployment claims can be filed online at www.unemployment.ok.gov.

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