Ohio Unemployment Agency Opens Fraud Victim Hotline

Amid a surge of fraudulent unemployment claims and identity theft cases, the Department of Job and Family Services has established a new toll-free hotline for victims to file fraud claims.

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(TNS) — The state's unemployment agency has established a new toll-free hotline in response to the large numbers of victims of unemployment identity theft trying to file a fraud claim.

Beacon Journal consumer columnist Betty Lin-Fisher wrote about the hundreds of thousands of people who are receiving 1099 tax forms in error saying they claimed unemployment on Sunday and what to do.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has also updated its website to make it easier for people to file the identity theft claim online. The state has suggested the quickest way to file the fraud claim is online. It also created a way for employers to notify the agency if they believe their employees’ personal information was compromised and used to file fraudulent unemployment claims.

The new phone number is 833-658-0394. The department said the number is staffed by 50 representatives from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"The phone number complements a secure online portal ODJFS established last month to provide a direct way for victims to report identity theft. Individuals who believe their identity was stolen and used to file a fraudulent unemployment claim can visit unemployment.ohio.gov, click on the “Report Identity Theft” button and follow the guidance for individuals. This includes three steps: 1. Complete the reporting form, 2. File your taxes with IRS guidance, and 3. Protect your identity," the agency said.

"Identity theft is a widespread national challenge. Many Ohioans have become victims, and their identities used to file fraudulent unemployment claims in both the traditional unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs," the agency said.

Last month, ODJFS issued 1.7 million 1099-G tax forms to individuals in whose names unemployment benefits were paid in 2020. Many of those individuals were never paid unemployment benefits and did not know their identity had been compromised until they received a 1099-G form.

©2021 the Akron Beacon Journal, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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