The Maine Department of Labor issued a warning Monday to the thousands of Mainers currently collecting unemployment benefits about a phishing scam targeting recipients’ usernames and passwords.

“Bad actors” are trying to steal usernames and passwords to log into unemployment accounts where they change payment information, the department said in a news release.

In addition to the warning, the department said it is adding extra security measures to protect beneficiaries from fraudulent email phishing scams.

Monday’s warning comes after the state was notified by the U.S. Department of Labor about similar scams happening across the country.

Some of the reported phishing attempts in Maine mimicked the Maine labor department and provided a link to reset a password. The department said it will never send an email asking a beneficiary to reset their password unless requested by the individual.

Any email asking for a password reset that was not requested should be deleted. People receiving unemployment benefits should select a password that is unique to their account and not used for any other purpose.

“The Department wants to ensure that unemployment benefits go to eligible Maine people and not to criminals,” Maine labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said in a statement. “Maine, along with other unemployment insurance programs across the country and in cooperation with law enforcement partners, is continuing to investigate fraudulent activity and put measures in place to prevent it.”

As an added measure of security, the labor department has placed a temporary hold on several hundred unemployment claims while awaiting additional verification from applicants. Anyone whose unemployment claim is on hold will be notified by the state.

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