WESTFORD, MA — Since May, Westford police have been responding to a steady stream of reports of fraudulent claims. But between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3, the number of cases related to identity theft shot up.

Last week there were 17 reports of fraud, and of those 15 considered identity theft. The week between Sept. 20 and 26, there were five reports of identity fraud, and before that there were six reports of fraud, according to the public crime logs.

Westford Police did not return request for comment, but identity theft related to phony unemployment claims is seeing a spike across the country.

Fraud related to unemployment has exploded recently amid coronavirus job losses — so much that the FBI during the summer issued a bulletin warning about the scam.

If you learn you have been a victim of fraud, the FBI is asking that you fill out a form online so the Department of Unemployment Assistance’s Program Integrity Unit can set to work to help, first by freezing the account associated with the report.

If any payments were made, they will not be recognized as income to you at the end of the calendar year, according to the FBI. They’ll work to ensure the claim will not impact your ability to collect unemployment should you need to in the future and no charges will be assessed to your employer.

This article originally appeared on the Westford Patch

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