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Beware of a new fraudulent activity involving identity theft
February 2nd, 2021

Beware of a new fraudulent activity involving identity theft

By Gary L. Calligas, publisher of The Best of Times magazine and radio show

February 2, 2021 …. There is a new fraudulent activity happening in the Shreveport-Bossier city area, but also across the United States. Criminals obtained personal information from individuals via a data breach a long time ago to use an individual’s identity to apply and receive state and federal unemployment compensation benefits. This activity began in March or April of 2020 when the number of individuals applying for unemployment benefits was increasing dramatically due to the pandemic. Individuals who were unemployed, in most cases, would apply in person for benefits at their local area unemployment office; however, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, individuals could apply online to complete an application and to receive unemployment benefits. Therefore, some of these online applications used personal information obtain via identity theft to obtain fraudulent benefits, but only recently have these victims become aware of their identity being stolen.

Annually, individuals receive in the mail numerous statements from their employers, banks, investment companies, but also from federal and state agencies whom they might have received benefits, such as interest payments, dividends, social security payments, tax refunds, and unemployment payments. Around February 1st, these statements and forms are completed and mailed to individuals. However, most individuals do not open these forms and statements until they are ready to complete their income tax returns.

However, some have decided to open their statements and forms, like me, and are finding a Federal Form 1099-G which reported unemployment payments which the person did not apply for and did receive any compensation during 2020. The information shown on the form will be the identity theft victim’s name, home address, and social security number. Therefore some unknown person, applied for such benefits and receive the funds fraudulently using another person’s information, which resulted in victim of identity theft.. These criminals have obtained and used information regarding the identity victim employment history to file for unemployment benefits.

The form 1099G states that these unemployment benefits will be reported to the IRS via the listed social security number of the identity victim who may have to pay taxes on them, unless the victim can prove that the form and benefits are erroneous.

After recently contacting the Louisiana Work Force Commission, they stated that during 2020, an international crime ring used previously stolen personal information to fraudulently claim unemployment benefits for individuals in Louisiana, but also throughout the United States.

What should an individual do if they are a victim of identity theft as a result of a fraudulent Form 1099G for 2020:

1. File a report with local and state law enforcement agency of the identity theft and how it was used.

2. File a report and complaint with the Federal Office of Inspector General via their online allegation form at www.oig.dhs.gov/hotline Make a copy of the complaint form which includes a reference number.

3. File a report and complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov

4. File an online form with the Louisiana Workforce Commission at www.laworks.net to report suspected Identity theft and unemployment fraud. The commission will email you a confirmation document that you can print out and attach to your state and federal tax return along with the erroneous 1099G form, so that you do not have to report the income from unemployment benefits on your tax returns.

5. Consider obtaining and reviewing your current credit reports to see if fraudulent activities have occurred elsewhere based upon this identity theft.

.

Lastly, one might consider opening all of your mail, including your statements and forms to see if you have received a suspicious IRS Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits in 2020 in your name and social security number. If it is fraudulent, then take necessary reporting actions as soon as possible.

  

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