States have experienced a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities that were accessed or purchased from past data breaches, the majority of which occurred in previous years and involved larger criminal efforts unrelated to unemployment. Criminals are using these stolen identities to fraudulently collect benefits across multiple states.
For information and reporting other types of unemployment fraud, including claimant fraud or employer fraud, visit our Report Unemployment Fraud page.
Signs that you may be a victim of unemployment identity theft
Most victims of unemployment identity theft are unaware that claims have been filed and/or that benefits have been collected using their identities. Many people only find out unemployment identity theft occurred when they receive something in the mail, such as a payment or state issued 1099-G tax form that’s incorrect or for benefits not received.
Sample form from the IRS.gov website: IRS form Certain Government Payments 1099-G
You may be a victim of unemployment identity theft if you received:
- Mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment and you did not recently file for unemployment benefits. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards and could be from any state.
- A 1099-G tax form reflecting unemployment benefits you weren't expecting. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits you did not receive or an amount that exceeds your records for the unemployment benefits you did receive. The form itself may be from a state in which you do not live or did not file for benefits.
- While you are still employed, a notice from your employer indicating that your employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim in your name.
Reporting unemployment identity theft
- Report unemployment identity theft to the state where it occurred. Use the State Directory for Reporting Unemployment Identity Theft, below, to report it to the state.
- You may not receive an immediate confirmation from the state when you submit a report. Time estimates for how long this process takes vary by state.
- The state may require additional documentation (like filing a police report or a sworn affidavit) in order to open an investigation; they will review your case and make a determination. Each state has different requirements and a different process for investigating identity theft.
- If you received a 1099-G tax form for benefits you didn’t receive, the state will need to issue you a corrected 1099-G tax form and will update the tax record with the IRS on your behalf.
- When you file your income taxes, ONLY include income you actually received. Do not wait to receive a corrected 1099-G to file your taxes.
- The processing of your tax return should not be delayed while your report of unemployment identity theft is under investigation.
- If you have not filed your taxes yet, do not report the incorrect 1099-G income on your tax return.
- If you have already filed your taxes, do not file an amended return. The IRS will issue additional guidance regarding your next steps. Refer to the Identity Theft and Unemployment Benefits page on IRS.gov for updates and additional tax filing information.
- Check your credit report for suspicious activity or unauthorized lines of credit opened. Per federal regulations, you can request one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Transunion) through AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1- 877-322-8228; you will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.
- For information and steps to further protect your credit, visit the Credit Report page on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumer site.
- Report unemployment identity theft that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud. In addition to reporting with the state, reporting with the National Center for Disaster Fraud helps law enforcement stop future unemployment identity theft. Filing this report with the National Center for Disaster Fraud will also notify the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, which is the primary agency responsible for investigating unemployment fraud. You may not receive a response back after submitting this information.
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State Directory for Reporting Unemployment Identity Theft
Refer to each state's specific guidance around reporting unemployment identity theft. Some states may refer to unemployment as "reemployment assistance" or may refer to identity theft as "imposter fraud".
Never send personal information or documents to unverified sites or in response to requests from social media. The resources below have been verified by state and federal government.