For those of you who have read my weekly thoughts I send and post, one topic I seem to circle back to occasionally is how to keep yourself safe from fraud or cyber criminals. I try to find good, useful information to share with you to help on this quest.
Well, I had quite a surprise last month when I received some paperwork at the office from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. I was about to put it in the shred bag thinking it was probably my unemployment tax bill that I had just paid. Luckily, I did open it. It seems that I had filed for unemployment and my employer needed to verify my past employment history. Wait – what? Let me restate this: I had filed for unemployment from myself. Needless to say, I was not expecting to see that. To make the situation even more interesting, the perpetrator had used my birth name which I haven’t used in 20-plus years. Now that was an eye catcher!
Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want you to be safe. Please be diligent checking your credit reports regularly. Be careful when you get solicitations in your email wanting you to click on a link you are not expecting. Remember, many institutions (the IRS, your bank, a credit card company, etc.) already have information on you. They won’t be emailing you asking for your date of birth or Social Security number. If you receive an email that you think is even a bit suspicious, contact that company yourself. If you do call them, find the official phone number yourself and don’t use contact information that is in the suspicious email.
Back to my unemployment issue: The main reason I’m sharing this particular story is that there is evidently a fairly large scam occurring right now with unemployment-- So much so that Rhona received the following email just this week:
February 3, 2021
Yesterday, ODJFS launched an online portal for employers to report identity theft on behalf of multiple employees. Employers can visit unemployment.ohio.gov and click on the “Report Identity Theft” button. They will then be directed to both the portal and additional resources. The portal includes a template that employers can download, complete and then upload to provide the names of multiple employees whose personal information may have been compromised.
Many employers are alerted to the issue when they receive a “request for separation information” from ODJFS regarding an individual who is currently employed. This portal provides a secure way to expedite the reporting of this information to the agency.
Thank you for your time and cooperation.
Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
If you are not in Ohio: don’t feel left out! Scams are occurring in your state too. I did a little search of different states, and they are all experiencing similar fraud of benefits.
One warning sign that I want to highlight is if you receive a 1099-G showing unemployment compensation under your name. Hey, it’s tax time, the onslaught of receiving tax documents has begun. Please make sure you are looking at them and where they are originating.
Also, if you are retired and think you are safe: think again. There are reports of employed, unemployed, and retirees all being susceptible to this scam.
Now, my purpose is not to scare the heck out of you. Instead, here are two links that contain useful information that can help us all protect ourselves:
That’s all I have for this week. It is a military weekend for me and I wanted to write this before I get preoccupied with those duties.
Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well. If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email. If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them.
As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!