By: Marla R. Chambers, CPA, CFP® - Senior Financial Planner
Ohio unemployment compensation fraud is running rampant. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported that for the week ending February 6, there were 44,000 potentially fraudulent unemployment claims out of 140,444 (31%). A Bespoke Investment Group report stated that of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance jobless claims reported on February 18, Ohio made up 44.9% of the national claims (“Ohio Drives Claims Nationally”). This is likely due to the significant number of fraudulent claims. You may know a friend or family member that has been targeted in this identity theft scam or you may be a victim yourself. Some Ohioans have received a 2020 1099-G for Unemployment benefits paid fraudulently using their names and social security numbers. Some have received a notice from Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) or a ReliaCard erroneously. Others have been notified by their employer of a fraudulent claim.
If you or someone you know have been a victim of this round of identity theft, the ODJFS suggests that the employee report the ID Theft at https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/IdentityTheftIndividual/. You should also freeze your credit and place a one-year fraud alert on your credit reports at Equifax (800-525-6285, Equifax.com), Experian (888-397-3742, Experian.com) and TransUnion (800-680-7289, transunion.com). You should also review your credit report for any other fraudulent activity.
If you received an erroneous Form 1099-G, the state needs to issue a corrected Form 1099-G reporting $0 as taxable income so that you do not get a bill from the IRS. If you don’t receive a corrected 1099-G by the time you file your tax return, you should only include the income you actually received. So if the entire 1099-G was fraudulent, you should not report this income on your return and the corrected form from the state will be needed to clear up the income reported to the IRS.
You may request an identity protection PIN from the IRS at https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin to prevent someone from using your information to file a fraudulent tax return. You may also check your earnings record on your Social Security report to make certain that no one has used your Social Security number to obtain work. If you find that you have been a victim of Social Security fraud, you may call the SSA fraud hotline at 800-269-0271.
If the level of identity theft is significant, you may want to file a local police report and contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
Please let us know if you have received a fraudulent unemployment claim and need additional assistance.