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Protecting your credit following unemployment fraud

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Posted at 7:03 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 07:03:33-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Thousands of Michiganders could likely be victims of identity theft after getting unemployment documents in the mail, even though they never filed for benefits.

It seems to be happening all over the state. People are now getting their 1099-G tax forms for unemployment, but several who’ve emailed us say they did not sign up and never got any payments.

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has started sending out tax forms for people who collected benefits in 2020.

The agency posted online that if you did not file but still got a form, you’re likely a victim of identity theft.

EXPERIAN MONITORING

“You need to work with the IRS and other agencies that don’t report information like that to the credit bureaus. Your credit report includes information about your debts. If it’s not debt related, it likely won’t be on the credit report,” said Rod Griffin, senior director of Consumer Education and Advocacy for Experian.

When it comes to unemployment fraud, if you’re a victim, you have to file the claim yourself, as the state will not do so.

If a person finds signs of credit fraud in their credit report, they can request a fraud alert.

“Again, we’ll share that with the other credit-reporting agencies so that if something does appear, you will be notified of it. Anytime someone’s using your identity,” said Griffin.

Griffin tells me the credit bureaus do not work directly with the states. If your information was compromised for payments, report it here in Michigan first (click here to report fraud). You may also need to contact the IRS.

Identity theft can happen to anyone. Even Griffin himself learned that recently as his credit card number was compromised last week.

SAFETY REMINDER

Always be cautious and careful.

If you get a call from your creditor or someone claiming to be them, find your billing statement or look online for the customer service number. Only use that number, and do not call the number back on your caller ID, as that may be a fraudster looking for information.

Monitor your credit report.

Experian, Equifax and Transunion are allowing free weekly checks through April.

“It’s frustrating, and it’s why we need to be careful about how we use our identifiable information and need to be proactive,” said Griffin.

ID THEFT VICTIM?

If you were a victim of identity theft and never filed for benefits, be sure to submit your information first at www.michigan.gov/uia.

The agency says once identity theft is confirmed it will send a new 1099 to you and the IRS.

RELATED: Unemployment scams and its impact on you, even if you’re not unemployed