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Experts encourage checking tax forms for signs of identity theft

New IdentityTheft Scam

Lynn Knowlton considers herself fortunate. She is self-employed and was not forced out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic. She also considers herself someone who closely guards her personal information; never making online purchases and always hesitant to share her Social Security number. Naturally, she was surprised to get a tax form from the state of Maine detailing how more than $6,000 had been paid out in her name last year. According to Knowlton, she was able to quickly lock her credit and contact Maine’s Dept. of Labor to file a fraud notice. After connecting with ReliaCard, the U.S. Bank service that sends prepaid cards to unemployment insurance recipients, Knowlton learned the UI claim in her name was made with an out-of-state phone number, a common sign of identity theft. Knowlton said the card issued in her name was never activated and her attempts to track down when or where her information may have been compromised have been unsuccessful. “It’s very unnerving,” Knowlton said. “The card company was very happy I called them because they were able to lock down the card.”According to the Dept. of Labor, the state has canceled an estimated 46,000 unemployment insurance claims over suspected fraud since last March. Not all of those cases are specifically related to identity theft, but they do point to how criminals have tried to take advantage of expanded relief programs during the pandemic. “The state expanded unemployment insurance to get money into the hands of people who really needed it. But, unfortunately, it just opened up the door for all this fraudulent actability,” said Jen Burke, public affairs manager for the Maine Credit Union League. Burke said their member credit unions have seen an influx of customers who have gotten tax forms for benefits they never applied for or received. She said anyone who receives a tax record showing incorrect unemployment benefits, including documents from other states, should keep the form on hand in order to properly report the fraud. “It’s your credit, it’s your tax history, it’s your tax bill and liability that really is on the line.”

Lynn Knowlton considers herself fortunate. She is self-employed and was not forced out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She also considers herself someone who closely guards her personal information; never making online purchases and always hesitant to share her Social Security number.

Naturally, she was surprised to get a tax form from the state of Maine detailing how more than $6,000 had been paid out in her name last year.

According to Knowlton, she was able to quickly lock her credit and contact Maine’s Dept. of Labor to file a fraud notice.

After connecting with ReliaCard, the U.S. Bank service that sends prepaid cards to unemployment insurance recipients, Knowlton learned the UI claim in her name was made with an out-of-state phone number, a common sign of identity theft.

Knowlton said the card issued in her name was never activated and her attempts to track down when or where her information may have been compromised have been unsuccessful.

“It’s very unnerving,” Knowlton said. “The card company was very happy I called them because they were able to lock down the card.”

According to the Dept. of Labor, the state has canceled an estimated 46,000 unemployment insurance claims over suspected fraud since last March. Not all of those cases are specifically related to identity theft, but they do point to how criminals have tried to take advantage of expanded relief programs during the pandemic.

“The state expanded unemployment insurance to get money into the hands of people who really needed it. But, unfortunately, it just opened up the door for all this fraudulent actability,” said Jen Burke, public affairs manager for the Maine Credit Union League.

Burke said their member credit unions have seen an influx of customers who have gotten tax forms for benefits they never applied for or received. She said anyone who receives a tax record showing incorrect unemployment benefits, including documents from other states, should keep the form on hand in order to properly report the fraud.

“It’s your credit, it’s your tax history, it’s your tax bill and liability that really is on the line.”

Source: on 2021-02-12 18:15:00

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