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State sees cyber ID theft rise along with unemployment claims

The Oregon State Capitol building in Salem. (The Enterprise/File)

The Oregon Employment Department experienced a tenfold increase in identity theft issues in 2020 as new jobless claims poured in during the pandemic, mirroring a spike in claims that took place across the country.

Cyberthieves capitalized on the huge volume of unemployment claims filed during the early months of the pandemic to submit fraudulent benefits applications. Washington lost upwards of $200 million during the pandemic; California’s losses top $11 billion.

But unlike several other states, Oregon won’t say how much money was lost to fraud.

The employment department rejected a public records request submitted in December, citing a broad statutory exemption from the records most state agencies must disclose. The department also refused an accompanying request seeking records explaining how it reached the decision not . . .