COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- As an unemployment filing surge is underway, nationwide and in Colorado, the Labor Department is beginning to investigate fraudulent filings, specifically when it comes to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Melissa Thompson of Colorado Springs is one of the lucky ones who is still working amid the pandemic.
"I'm in property management for a real estate company," she said.
Yet last week she received a letter with a bank card in the mail, claiming she had filed for unemployment.
"They start talking to me, asking me my birthday, last four of my social and none of that matched, but the card had my name on it," she said.
It's stories like these prompting the state of Colorado to look into a huge jump in pandemic unemployment assistance in recent weeks, investigating the possibility of fraud.
"I have friends that are waiting to get money. And then I get a card with money on it that I never applied for. Are they getting other benefits I don't know about in my name? I have no idea," Thompson said.
Since March, the Labor and Employment Office has paid out nearly $765 Million in benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
It provides compensation to workers who are ineligible for regular unemployment claims, like those who are self-employed who don't typically pay for the state's unemployment insurance.
So how can you protect yourself and your identity from scammers trying to file unemployment claims under your name?
"The challenge a lot of people face is they have the three passwords they use for everything, so if a hacker gets ahold of one account, then they own the rest of your accounts as well," said security expert and UCCS professor Bob Cook.
Over the next few weeks, the Labor Department hopes to release more information on whether the increase in pandemic unemployment assistance claims are coming from scammers taking advantage of the program.