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Identity Theft in Pandemic Benefits Programs

Congress passed massive relief legislation totaling more than $5 trillion to fight the effects of the pandemic. It was a lot of money—and it went out fast—to workers who lost their jobs, small businesses forced to close due to health and safety concerns, and families trying to pay bills. With so much money going out, criminals schemed to steal people’s identities. They hacked into social media accounts or used email phishing schemes and impersonation scams to steal personal information. Then they used it to get unemployment checks and create fake farms to pocket business loans. 

But the oversight community is fighting back. Across all levels of government—federal, state, and local—watchdogs are sounding the alarm and law enforcement is prosecuting criminals. Our timeline takes you through their efforts to protect pandemic relief funds.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, go to or check out the timeline below for resources.

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