Fraudulent Unemployment Claims – How To Spot It, Report It, and Protect Your Identity

April 6, 2021

The rise of unemployment and the increase in unemployment benefits resulting from COVID-19 has pathed the way for criminals to take advantage of state governments and their unemployment programs and filing systems, resulting in a significant spike in fraudulent unemployment claims all across the country. Criminals take on innocent people’s identities, using their social security number, driver’s license number, and most recent job history to file for unemployment benefits under their name. Here are some tips to spot and report fraudulent unemployment claims and better protect your identity.

Tips to spot if unemployment insurance identity theft is happening to you:

  1. If you receive a debit card or unemployment insurance letter in the mail, and you did not file for unemployment.
  2. If your employer notifies you that a claim has been filed in your name when you have not filed for unemployment.
  3. You attempt to file a claim online, but one already exists in your name.
  4. You receive Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits you did not receive. Form 1099-G is issued by the government to taxpayers to document the taxable income they may have received from state agencies that year, such as unemployment benefits.

Steps to take if you suspect you are a victim of a fraudulent unemployment claim:

  1. Immediately contact your employer to advise them of the false claim.
  2. Report the fraud to your state unemployment agency.
    • If you are an Illinois resident, report the fraudulent claim to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
    • If you live outside of Illinois, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website to access a state-by-state list of contact resources made by the department.
  3. If you received a debit card in the mail, do not activate the card.
  4. If you received an incorrect Form 1099-G to report unemployment benefits you did not receive, contact the issuing state agency and request a revised form.
  5. Immediately check your credit report for other fraud-related activity. This can be done for free at annualcreditreport.com.
  6. Contact the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and have them freeze your credit reports. The bureaus will freeze and unfreeze your accounts for free.
  7. File a police report at your local police station.
  8. Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.

Ongoing steps to take to help protect yourself from identity theft:

  1. Sign up for free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com and consistently review the reports for fraudulent activity.
  2. Never give out personal information over the phone to unknown callers.

It is important for individuals to be on high alert for identity theft and take additional steps to protect their identity. Do not hesitate to reach out to your BDF team if you have any questions regarding recognizing or reporting fraudulent unemployment claims.

I joined BDF in September 2020 as a Planner. I graduated with an Economics degree from Bucknell University in May 2020. As a planner, I create and review extensive financial plans and retirement projections, build ongoing client relationships, and help take care of clients’ financial needs. I am currently working towards becoming a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional.

Author(s)