WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — More than 500,000 unemployment claims in Ohio are under investigation for fraud.
Identity thieves worked overtime and found targets in Indiana, too.
David Emrie says he has never lived or worked in Ohio. His only claim to Ohio is driving through the state every once in a while. But last week, an official-looking envelope that appeared to be from an Ohio government office showed up in his mailbox.
“From the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, it is basically a 1099-G (tax form) that states that I received $6,813 of unemployment compensation,” Emrie said.
Emrie was more than a little concerned. He suspected someone was either attempting to steal his identity or had filed for unemployment using his name.
The envelope also had a brochure that offered instructions on how to report unemployment fraud claims online. The website asked for his Social Security number right off the bat, which made him suspicious.
“Right away, it says there is a ‘report identity theft’ button right on the screen and you click on that. Another thing that made me wary about all of this is when you click on that link it is no longer a .gov website,” Emrie said.
Not knowing if the site was legitimate or not, Emrie didn’t fill out the form. He tried to call the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and was put on hold for hours. He attempted to use the chat function on the site, but when asked him for his Social Security number he jumped off the chat. He didn’t feel safe using a website he didn’t trust.
Getting answers from Ohio has proven difficult, so he filed an identity theft report with Westfield Police Department.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services issued a warning on its Twitter page asking people who received a 1099-G form but didn’t file for unemployment to get in touch with the department immediately. The tweet provides a link to a link to a website.
Emrie said, “Just from the way the links go, if everything was a .gov website, I don’t think I would have a real problem trying to figure it out, but just the way their websites keep changing you and throwing you to different websites is very uneasy and unsettling.”
If someone claimed $6,800 in unemployment in Emrie’s name, he said he fears he may get stuck paying the taxes on that amount while clearing up the fraud.