Tis the season for receiving numerous tax documents in preparation of filing income tax returns. Should you open the mail to find a 1099G form, used to record unemployment benefits received in a fiscal year, but you never filed for or received unemployment compensation, you are not alone.
Fraudsters have taken advantage of the massive number of unemployment claims caused by Gov. Tom Wolf closing nearly every business in Pennsylvania during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as a get-rich scheme. They are filing for, and receiving, benefits under another person’s name and it is a very large and costly problem. The Independent Fiscal Office estimates scammers bilked the unemployment system for $6 billion from April 2020 through September 2021.
For Pennsylvanians who fortunately didn’t have to file for unemployment benefits, receiving a 1099G form in the mail is the first indication their identity has been stolen and used to file for benefits.
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) advises those who received a 1099G form but didn’t file for benefits to immediately contact local police and file a report. Next, the person needs to file a fraud complaint with L&I by calling the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469, or by going to uc.pa.gov
. Copies of the police report and the fraud claim, as well as the 1099G received in the mail, should be kept for personal record keeping. There is no need report the bogus 1099G to the IRS when completing a tax return. A correct 1099G will be issued once the fraud claim is confirmed.
It is extremely nerve-wracking to find out you are a victim of identity theft. Though the above advice and instructions on what to do once you know you are a victim of unemployment fraud doesn’t take back the crime, I hope it helps to get things back in order.
L&I has stepped up routing out fraudulent claims, so they are stopped before benefits are released. It is my hope the General Assembly dives deeper into the issue, so it is harder for fraudsters to file claims and easier for L&I to weed out fraudulent claims.