State unemployment systems are "under attack," according to the federal government, which is prompting the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to launch a new website for victims of unemployment fraud.
A Monday news release from the department said, "With the significant increase of workers eligible for unemployment insurance benefits amid the pandemic, state systems are under attack by organized criminal groups and others who are using information stolen in past data breaches in other systems to collect benefits fraudulently across multiple states."
The DOL said its site developers recruited actual victims of unemployment fraud to test the new site to make sure the instructions are easy to follow and understand.
In many cases, people only discover they're a victim of unemployment fraud when they receive an unemployment check they never applied for or a 1099-G tax form, indicating they received unemployment when they did not.
1) Report unemployment identity theft to the state where it occurred
In this case, be sure to report unemployment identity theft to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
DEO's online form to report fraud launched after the I-Team spent weeks raising the alarm to the state when people couldn't get through or get answers on the phone lines to report fraud.
2) When you file your income taxes, ONLY include income you actually received.
The DOL advises not to wait to receive a corrected 1099-G to file your taxes, saying on its website, "The processing of your tax return should not be delayed while your report of unemployment identity theft is under investigation."
3) Check your credit report for suspicious activity or unauthorized lines of credit opened.
You can request one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Transunion) through AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1- 877-322-8228.
4) Report unemployment identity theft that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud.
DOL says, in addition to reporting with DEO, the National Center for Disaster Fraud helps law enforcement stop future unemployment identity theft.
Find additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor here.