Seizing upon overwhelmed state unemployment agencies, identity thieves have been aggressively filing fraudulent unemployment benefit claims throughout the United States. The victims have typically learned about the claim either when their employer was contacted by the agency to verify their prior employment or upon receiving a letter from the unemployment agency.
In addition to the general discomfort of having their identity stolen and knowing that their personal information is available to criminals for future use, victims must also be concerned with the unemployment agency seeking repayment and the Internal Revenue Service asserting that they have taxable income.
If you have learned that someone has stolen your identity and filed a false unemployment benefit claim with your personal information, here are nine steps you can take to protect yourself.
Notify your resident state's unemployment agency that someone else has filed the fraudulent unemployment claim.
In Massachusetts, this can be accomplished by completing a Fraud Reporting Form on the Department of Unemployment Assistance's website. Alternatively, you can call the DUA at (877) 626-6800.
In California, fill out the Fraud Reporting Form on the Employment Development Division’s website. Alternatively, you can fax 1-866-340-5484 or call the EDD Fraud Hotline at 1-800-229-6297.
Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission using their online portal.
We advise filing Form 14309with the IRS and providing a copy to your tax preparer.
Change passwords for your important online accounts such as email, online banking, and credit cards.
Check your credit report with all three credit reporting bureaus to ensure that the identity theft has been limited to only an unemployment benefit claim. You can receive a free, annual credit report from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting annualcreditreport.com. There can be differences in the three credit reports, so we recommend getting all three when identity theft occurs.
Consider a free credit freeze by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus independently. This will prevent anyone from accessing your credit reports and will generally prevent a thief from opening new accounts in your name. If you infrequently open new lines of credit, then freezing your credit is an attractive option. However, you will need to contact the bureaus whenever you need to authorize access to your credit report.
Place a fraud alert on your credit file by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. This will put credit providers on notice to be more careful when opening new accounts in your name.
Consider engaging the services of an identity theft protection service. There are many companies offering a variety of levels of service at various price points. Identity Guard and LifeLock are two of the most popular.
Consider filing a police report at your local precinct. The completed police report will provide valuable evidence if you need to prove the fraud to the unemployment agency, Internal Revenue Service, or a credit reporting agency.
If you have any additional questions, please contact your GW & Wade Counselor or contact us here.
Contact information for the three major, national credit reporting agencies is provided below.
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The information above is general and educational in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Information is as of the date of publication. GW & Wade cannot guarantee that this information is accurate, complete, or timely. We make no warranties with regard to such information or results obtained by its use. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.
Clients of the firm who have specific questions should contact the GW & Wade Counselor with whom they regularly work. All other inquiries, including any inquiry concerning a potential advisory relationship with GW & Wade, should be directed to:
Laurie Wexler Gerber, Director of Marketing GW & Wade, LLC 781-239-1188 firstname.lastname@example.org