Unemployment Identity Fraud is on the Rise
Unemployment identity fraud happens when criminals use other people’s information to illegally receive unemployment benefits – and it’s increasingly common. Sometimes criminals use stolen personal information to illegally log into a person’s unemployment account and steal the unemployment benefit payments intended for the real claimant. This is known as “Claim Hijacking” or “Claim/Account Takeover.”
Many people who experience unemployment identity fraud only find out when they get something in the mail, like a notice from a state unemployment agency or a state-issued 1099-G tax form reporting unemployment benefits that they never requested or received. People filing for unemployment may become aware of “Claim Hijacking” or “Claim/Account Takeover” when they unexpectedly stop receiving unemployment benefit payments and notice that the bank account or address information on their unemployment claim was changed without their knowledge.
Warning Signs of Unemployment Identity Fraud
Here are some signs that you may be a victim of unemployment identity fraud:
- A government agency sends you mail about an unemployment claim or payment and you did not recently file for unemployment benefits. This could include receiving requests to verify your identity for unemployment benefits, receiving letters notifying you of an unemployment claim filed in your name, or receiving unexpected payments or debit cards. The mail could be from any state even if you never lived or worked there.
- You receive a 1099-G tax form reflecting unemployment benefits you weren't expecting and did not receive. This link provides a sample 1099-G from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website: IRS form Certain Government Payments 1099-G. Box 1 may show unemployment benefits you did not receive (or more benefits than you received). Or the 1099-G may be from a state where you haven’t lived, worked, or filed for benefits.
- While you are still employed, you receive a notice from your employer indicating that they received a request for information about an unemployment claim in your name.
- While you are receiving unemployment, you learn your payments were sent somewhere else although you did not authorize a change to your unemployment account. “Claim Hijacking” or “Claim/Account Takeover” occurs when someone illegally accesses your unemployment account and redirects your benefits to a different bank account or address.
Reporting Unemployment Identity Fraud
*Note: This information is specifically for unemployment identity fraud. Report other types of unemployment fraud, including claimant eligibility fraud or employer fraud, at our Report Unemployment Fraud page.
- Report unemployment identity fraud to the state where it occurred. Find contact information for the state unemployment agency here.
- You may not receive an immediate confirmation from the state when you submit a report. Time estimates for this process vary by state.
- Each state has different requirements and processes for investigating identity fraud. Some may require additional documentation (like filing a police report or a sworn affidavit) to open an investigation. When you report unemployment identity fraud to the state, make sure to follow all instructions provided by the state.
- If you received a 1099-G tax form for unemployment benefits you didn’t receive, the state will issue you a corrected 1099-G 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.
- Do not wait for the state’s investigation to conclude before filing your taxes.
- Do not report the incorrect 1099-G income on your tax return.
- If you already filed your taxes, do not file an amended return. The IRS will issue additional guidance regarding your next steps. Find updates and additional tax filing information from the IRS here.
- Check your credit report for suspicious activity or unauthorized lines of credit opened. By law, you can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Also, through December 2023, you can get a free credit report each week from each of the credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to get your free reports. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity. You can also visit Free Credit Reports on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website to learn more about credit reports.
- If your credit report lists transactions, credit accounts, or credit inquiries you don’t recognize, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the problem to the FTC and find out how to fix it. IdentityTheft.gov is the government’s one-stop resource for people who experience identity theft.
- Consider freezing your credit. It’s the best way you can protect against having new accounts opened in your name. Learn more about credit freezes and fraud alerts on the FTC website here.
- Report unemployment identity fraud that occurred after March 2020 to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud. The National Center for Disaster Fraud will notify the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, which is the primary agency responsible for investigating unemployment fraud. Your report can help protect others from fraud.
*Note: You must still report the unemployment identity fraud to the state unemployment agency.
State Directory for Reporting Unemployment Identity Fraud
The U.S. Department of Labor has verified all links and contact information on this page. NEVER send personal information or documents to unverified sites or in response to requests from social media, email, or text messages. NEVER click on links from an unknown sender or from anyone claiming to be a state unemployment agency. Instead, go to the official state unemployment website which you can find here.
*Note: When you visit a state’s unemployment website you may see that some states refer to their unemployment program as “unemployment insurance”, “unemployment compensation”, or "reemployment assistance" and some states may use the term "imposter fraud” or “identity theft” instead of the term “identity fraud.”
For technical issues with this website, accessibility problems, or to report non-working phone numbers or broken website links in the State Directory, please email: ETAfeedback@dol.gov.