New tools launched to report suspected ID theft related unemployment fraud

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has launched new tools for individuals and employers to report if they believe personal information was used to file a fraudulent unemployment claim.

Individuals who believe their personal information was compromised to file a claim are advised to call (833) 658-0394. The number is staffed by 50 workers 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The phone number complements an online portal ODJFS established for people to report suspected unemployment fraud in their name.

ODJFS advises employers who believe their employees’ information was improperly used to file a claim to visit and click on “Report Identity Theft.” They will be directed to both a reporting portal and additional information.

State officials say individuals are becoming aware of fraudulent claims in their name when they receive an IRS form 1099-G for unemployment benefits they never received. Employers are discovering the fraud when they get a “request for separation information” from ODJFS for an individual who is still employed.

Identity theft related unemployment fraud became rampant after some rules were changed to quickly get financial assistance to an unprecedented number of Ohioans left out of work by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Identity theft is a widespread national challenge. Many Ohioans have become victims, and their identities used to file fraudulent unemployment claims in both the traditional unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs,” according to a release from ODJFS.

“Last month, ODJFS issued 1.7 million 1099-G tax forms to individuals in whose names unemployment benefits were paid in 2020. Many of those individuals were never paid unemployment benefits and did not know their identity had been compromised until they received a 1099-G form.”

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