COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has created a new online portal that provides a direct way for employers to notify the agency if they believe their employees’ personal information was compromised and used to file fraudulent unemployment claims.
Employers can visit unemployment.ohio.gov and click on the “Report Identity Theft” button. They will then be directed to both the portal and additional resources. The portal includes a template that employers can download, complete and then upload to provide the names of multiple employees whose personal information may have been compromised.
Many employers are alerted to the issue when they receive a “request for separation information” from ODJFS regarding an individual who is currently employed. This portal provides a secure way to expedite the reporting of this information to the agency.
The ODJFS has also established a new toll-free number for individuals to notify the agency if they believe their personal information was compromised and used to file a fraudulent unemployment claim: (833) 658-0394. This number is staffed by 50 dedicated, cross-trained customer service representatives, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. One way victims have been discovering identity theft is by receiving an IRS 1099-G form for unemployment benefits that were never received.
The phone number complements a secure online portal ODJFS established last month to provide a direct way for victims to report identity theft. Individuals who believe their identity was stolen and used to file a fraudulent unemployment claim can visit unemployment.ohio.gov, click on the “Report Identity Theft” button and follow the guidance for individuals. This includes three steps: 1. Complete the reporting form, 2. File your taxes with IRS guidance, and 3. Protect your identity.
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. 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.
Pleae read the following tips from Clark County Prosecutor Dan Driscoll:
Lately, there have been lots of reports of people in our area who have or may have had their identity used in unemployment fraud.
Ohio's Attorney General has provided the following information regarding unemployment fraud. If you believe you may have been a victim, please follow the steps below.
Q: How do I know if someone has fraudulently filed for Unemployment Benefits in my name?
A: If you have received one or more of the following and did not file for Unemployment Benefits in 2020, you may have had a fraudulent claim made in your name:
• A 1099-G tax form.
• A letter from ODJFS stating that Unemployment Benefits have been applied for in your name.
• A US Bank ReliaCard for funds you do not recognize or were not expecting.
• Notification from your employer that ODJFS is inquiring about Unemployment Benefits that you did not apply for.
Q: What should I do if I receive one of the forms/notifications listed above?
A: You should follow these steps, in order:
1. Contact ODJFS immediately. You can report identity theft to ODJFS by completing an online form here or by visiting www.Unemployment.Ohio.Gov. You will need to enter personal information such as your Social Security number and your driver’s license number. If you do not have access to the internet, you can call ODJFS at 877-644-6562; please note wait times may be long. Once you’ve successfully filed your report, ODJFS will send a confirmation email, investigate the claim and issue a correction to the IRS if fraud is determined. Please note: There is not a mechanism in place for the Ohio Attorney General to contact ODJFS on your behalf to either start or expedite the process.
2. Check your credit report. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to do so. A credit report will show all credit-related accounts open in your name, such as mortgages, credit cards and car loans. Credit reports are free through April 2021, and after that date, you are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the main three credit reporting agencies. On your report, look for accounts and inquiries that you do not recognize. If you find anything suspicious, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office (800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov).
3. Consider placing an Initial Fraud Alert on your credit report. A fraud alert makes it harder for an identity thief to open credit accounts in your name and lasts for one year. There is no charge to place an Initial Fraud Alert. You need to contact only one of the credit agencies listed below to place the alert; the one you contact will share the information with the other two. The agencies are:
• Experian: www.experian.com/fraud (888-397-3742)
• Equifax: www.equifax.com (800-525-6285)
• Transunion: www.transunion.com (800-680-7289)
4. Consider placing a permanent Security Freeze on your credit report. A Security Freeze will prevent others from opening credit in your name; such a freeze is free to place and is permanent. (You must pause or end it to open a new account.) Unlike an Initial Fraud Alert, for a Security Freeze, you must contact all three of the credit reporting agencies. Use the contact information listed above to do so.
Q: Can the Ohio Attorney General’s Office resolve my Unemployment Benefits claim?
A: Although the Ohio Attorney General’s Office provides many services to help victims of identity theft, the office cannot resolve Unemployment Benefits claims; only ODJFS can make an eligibility and/or fraud determination. However, if after checking your credit report, you find accounts that do not belong to you, you are encouraged to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit (800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov).
Q: Can the Ohio Attorney General help me with other tax-related issues, such as providing guidance on how to file my taxes in light of receiving a fraudulent 1099-G?
A: The Ohio Attorney General’s Office cannot help with filing taxes, but the following websites may be helpful:
• The state of Ohio answers tax questions on this webpage.
• The IRS answer tax questions on this webpage.
Q: How can I protect myself from identity theft moving forward?
A: There are many ways in which you can protect yourself from further identity theft:
• Never share personal information with someone who contacts you unexpectedly.
• Place an Initial Fraud Alert or permanent Security Freeze on your credit reports.
• Never carry unnecessary personal information, such as your Social Security card, in your wallet or purse.
• Don’t conduct private business on personal WiFi.
• Use hard-to-guess passwords, especially for websites in which you have personal information stored.