Identity thieves are using stolen Social Security numbers to file for bogus unemployment benefits.
We started asking the state for figures on this fraud in February. Then we found 15,000 cases dating to 2012. Now that number has more than doubled.
Instead of using personal information to file fraudulent tax returns, the bad guys are going after unemployment checks.
We identified victims in more than four counties and found more than 40 people in Polk, Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties in recent months who say it happened to them.
Graphic designer Steve Core of Lakeland is among them. Someone attempted to file a claim for jobless benefits using Core’s name and Social Security number.
According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, "From April 2012 through June 2014, 34,661 potentially fraudulent claims due to identity theft were identified and referred by DEO to the U.S. Department of Labor for investigation."
The majority of which have been filed in the last year. Now victims have to worry about what else these identity thieves might do with their personal information. Victims can take steps to protect themselves:
- Report the ID theft to the IRS.
- Contact Social Security.
- Ask the credit bureaus to put a lock or alert on your credit.
Core is doing all of the above, but it is no guarantee the identity thief won't cause him trouble down the road.
DEO says it's taking action to curb the fraud on their end.
They say they've "...enhanced online security features to verify claimants' identity throughout the claims process to prevent identity theft and fraud."