By Brandon Martin
The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) is looking into reports that some customers’ banking information may have been changed without their permission.
“VEC is investigating these reports and has limited some functionality on our claims filing website until further notice,” said Joyce Fogg, communications manager for the VEC. “We are investigating each report, but at this point, there is no evidence that our systems were compromised or hacked. Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken steps to mitigate the potential impact from these reports.”
Those who believe they are a victim of identity theft for their unemployment insurance claim can report it by visiting https://www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed/fraud. Additionally, customers can verify their current banking information by calling the Voice Response System at 1-800-897-5630.
“Customers are reminded to never share their PIN with anyone and VEC will not contact you asking you to update your banking information or to share your PIN,” Fogg said. “We will provide additional information as soon as it is available.”
The initial unemployment claims in Henry County and Martinsville more than doubled in the last week of March but remained lower than the comparable week in 2020, according to figures by the VEC.
During the week ending March 20, Henry County had 46 initial claims. The number increased to 101 initial claims in the week ending March 27. Similarly, the City of Martinsville had 168 initial claims compared to 75 claims the week prior. Patrick County also had a smaller increase of 9 claims for a total of 35 claims in the week ending March 27.
The VEC announced that the overall number of initial claims filed during the week were 75 percent lower than March 27, 2020 when pandemic employment impacts first began to be felt.
Across the Commonwealth, the figure for seasonally unadjusted initial claims in Virginia was 28,244. The latest claims figure was an increase of 10,684 claimants from the previous week. This brought the total number of claims filed since the March 27, 2020 filing week to 1,554,169, compared to the 477,600 average filed during the previous three economic recessions since 1990.
For the most recent filing week, continued weeks claimed totaled 57,072 in Virginia which was a 2.0 percent decrease from the previous week but 15,245 higher than the 41,827 continued claims from the comparable week last year. Over half of claims that had a self-reported industry were in the accommodation/food service, administrative and waste services, retail trade, and healthcare/social assistance industries.
The continued claims in Henry County slightly increased from 361 claims to 364 claims. Martinsville also had a slight increase from 186 claims to 190 claims. Patrick County was the only locality of the three which experienced a decrease in continued claims. The county dropped from 98 claims to 83 claims.
Nationwide, in the week ending March 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 719,000, an increase of 61,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 26,000 from 684,000 to 658,000. The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 714,433 in the week ending March 27, an increase of 63,282 (or 9.7 percent) from the previous week. There were 5,981,787 initial claims in the comparable week in 2020. Looking at preliminary data, most states reported increases on a seasonally unadjusted basis. Virginia’s preliminary weekly change (+30,696) was the largest increase among states. Kentucky’s preliminary weekly change (+15,869) was the second largest increase. Georgia’s preliminary weekly change (+11,862) was the third largest increase. California’s preliminary weekly change (+9,628) was the fourth largest increase. Ohio’s preliminary weekly change (-15,718) was the largest increase.