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What’s a SAW account? Why you should register to prevent unemployment fraud

Here’s why you should register for a SAW account with the Employment Security Department, even if you don’t need to file for unemployment benefits.

With unemployment fraud on the rise in Washington during the coronavirus pandemic, fraud victims urged others to create a secure account with the Employment Security Department (ESD) even if they don’t plan on filing for benefits.

If you open a Secure Access Washington (SAW) account with ESD, it could keep thieves from fraudulently collecting benefits in your name.

“If you don't already have a SAW account, go to the Employment Security Department and create a SAW account so that you claim your own social security number,” said Abby Seeds, who was a victim of unemployment fraud. “That could prohibit someone from creating an account on your behalf without you knowing."

RELATED: Overseas scammers target Washington's unemployment department

To create a SAW account, go to the eServices page on ESD’s website. Here you can check to see if you already have a SAW account by entering your email. If you don't already have an account, you'll want to create a new account.

Once activated, you'll sign in again and plug in your social security number through ESD’s secure website. That's when you'll also be able to tell if another email is tied to your social security number. If that happens, you might be a fraud victim.

RELATED: What to do if a criminal uses your identity to file fake unemployment claims during the pandemic

It’s also important to note if you already have a SAW account for other state services, like renewing your driver’s license, you must link your account to ESD. To link the two, log into your SAW account and choose unemployment as a service. A few viewers say that's a critical step; a SAW account alone won't protect you from fraud.

Steps to take if you're a victim of unemployment fraud

  1. If you work for someone else, tell your employer you received a fraud notification from the Employment Security Department. Your employer will then report that to the ESD. Businesses can do report fraud in bulk if they have multiple employees who are fraud victims, and that helps investigators clear cases in bulk.
  2. Report the fraud to ESD either online or by phone at 800-246-9763. You'll be asked to provide the last four digits of your social security number, your birthday and a brief description of how you found that an imposter fraud claim was filed.
  3. Report the fraud to additional agencies, including your police department, the Federal Trade Commission or the Attorney General's Office.
  4. Check your credit report for free.

Do you have a question or concern about money during the coronavirus pandemic? Email us at money@king5.com.