Heightened Identity Theft Involving Unemployment Benefits

by Megan Hiles
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There has been a marked increase of fraud cases surrounding unemployment benefits, particularly in the state of Ohio. This amounted to at least $330 million in fraudulent pandemic unemployment benefits distributed between April and December 2020.

To combat this very serious issue, the state of Ohio launched a new resource portal (https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/) for employers to alert the state if they suspect their employees’ or their own information has been compromised and is being used to fraudulently file unemployment claims. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has more information and support here: https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/IdentityTheft/.

If you receive a “request for separation information” from Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) regarding an individual who is currently employed that is not correct, meaning the employee in question is still employed through you or they never worked for you at all, use the new portal to report the fraud. Be aware that stolen identities are being used to file fraudulent unemployment claims in both the traditional unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs.

Do not expect an immediate response from the state of Ohio. This is a widespread problem with many businesses affected. The state will investigate the claim to determine if it is fraudulent. Then it will mutualize any charges and remove them from the employer’s account.

If you are an individual who suspects that your identity may have been stolen, the ODJFS recommends you access the ODJFS fraud page at https://jfs.ohio.gov/fraud and click on the “Unemployment Insurance Claimant” button, which will take you to an online form to fill out.

We also recommend that individuals affected also apply for an IP PIN with the IRS since their information was hacked. Further, individuals do not need to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, with the IRS regarding an incorrect Form 1099-G. Read more from the IRS here: https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin.

If you need further assistance, please call the hotline set up by the state of Ohio, 833-658-0394, or reach out to your Corrigan Krause professional.