Scammers are targeting the unemployment system in Ohio, leading to potentially hundreds-of-thousands of identity theft victims across the state.
“I was sad. Sad that…sad, frustrated, angry,” describes Jenn Kiser. “I knew that there were going to be a lot of steps that I was going to have to take in order to protect what I’ve worked for.”
That’s how Kiser described the emotion when she learned the letter she received in the mail from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services was a result of fraud.
A staff member at NBC4, Kiser has learned about her share of scams.
But this was the first to hit home.
“If you are working, and you get something like this, you might have that same kind of, initial, ‘Oh my gosh, am I getting laid off and I don’t know about it?” Kiser admits.
The notice from ODJFS was one to confirm her account for unemployment benefits; but Kiser never applied.
On Monday, the state revealed they would be issuing a record number of 1099 tax forms linked to unemployment benefits.
Of the 1.7 million expected to be mailed, more than 160,000 had been flagged for fraud ahead of time and stopped from going out.
“If you’ve received a 1099 from us, and you didn’t apply for the benefits personally, it means someone has applied on your behalf,” warns Kim Henderson, the ODJFS director.
Henderson says more victims are still expected to be identified when the forms go out this month.
“It could be in the several-hundred thousands,” Henderson admits.
Kiser says she ultimately called ODJFS to notify them about the letter. She was told to report the fraud online on the state’s unemployment website.
But the state is also providing additional tips to victims like Kiser.
“I have to go to the Social Security Department, I’ve got to submit a form to the IRS, I have to go to all the different credit agencies and put security freezes on,” Kiser says.
But it’s not just the victims’ time scammers are stealing also, it’s also their peace of mind.
“How did they get my information in the first place? I don’t know what I did, what I clicked, where I applied, what I bought, that somehow, someone got my information.,” says Kiser.
ODJFS has launched a new link on their website yesterday, where victims can report fraud which you can visit here.
The state also recommends visiting their website, to see whether you may be victims of other types of identity theft.
Lastly, the Ohio Department of Taxation created a new page giving tax guidance to ID theft victims. View it here.