FAIRFIELD COUNTY – The Fairfield County Sheriff is reporting 37 news unemployment fraud cases over the weekend after people started receiving 1099-G tax form from the government in the mail.
Ohio Job and Family services identified in December more than $330 million in fraudulent unemployment benefit payments. Mostly from Pandemic Unemployment assistance program that has been launched to help people through the pandemic that started in March of 2020. The program helps people who lost income due to COVID-19 but couldn’t qualify for traditional unemployment self-employed or part-time workers.
ODJFS identified 56,000 fraudulent payments in December through PUA alone, totaling $330 million. In the fourth quarter of 2020, traditional unemployment fraudulently paid out $2.3 million to 2,200 people, they believe.
All 50 states are facing similar issues, Federal government says that overseas crime rings taking advantage of personal information compromised in data breaches in recent years could be the culprits.
Ohio launched a online tool that is fighting back and helping people report quicker. The tool has already stopped about 100,000 suspected fraudulent claims from going out in the past months.
Individuals who believe their personal information was compromised are advised to call 833-658-0394. The number is staffed by 50 workers 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The phone number complements an online portal ODJFS established for people to report suspected unemployment fraud in their name.
ODJFS advises employers who believe their employees’ information was improperly used to file a claim to visit unemployment.ohio.gov and click on “Report Identity Theft.” They will be directed to both a reporting portal and additional information.
Employers are discovering the fraud when they get a “request for separation information” from ODJFS for an individual who is still employed.
The number of 1099-G forms the state issues grew from 200,000 last year to 1.7 million last month. They were able to keep about 168,000 such forms from going out the door in December because they were suspected to be the result of identity theft.