Fraudulent unemployment claims continue; Local officer advises how to avoid becoming a victim

CENTERVILLE — Local law enforcement agencies continue to see an increase in the number of unemployment fraud reports.

The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services flagged more than 44,000 potentially fraudulent unemployment claims out of the 140,000 new claims that were filed last week.

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The Centerville Police Department alone said their records office has received dozens of fraudulent unemployment claims.

“We’ve had numerous calls along with other jurisdictions as well,” said John Davis, a Centerville Police Department officer.

“We think we are in the neighborhood of about 40 and that’s assuming they’re reporting it to us.”

Several viewers have also reached out to News Center 7 saying they are victims of the unemployment fraud with people filing for unemployment benefits while using their stolen personal information.

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The 44,000 fraudulent claims out of the 140,000 claims filed means a 194 percent increase compared to the previous week.

The fraud problems continue to plague the state’s system and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services said they expect even more fraudulent claims to be flagged as they investigate further.

“They’re getting their 1099s in the mail from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and finding out someone had filed for unemployment in their name. We haven’t found any commonality as to how someone might get that,” Davis said.

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Davis said to immediately report to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services either online or by calling their office if you believe your information was stolen. A police report can also be filed.

“The jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute falls within the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, so we have no jurisdiction to investigate that crime. We’ve been handling them as identity fraud in order to make sure our residents get the information they need,” he said.

Here are a few tips from Davis on how to protect your identity:

  • Always be mindful of who you are giving your information to
  • Never give out personal information over public WIFI
  • Closely monitor your credit report

“I have heard of people taking weeks if not years to clear up identity theft, so it is a difficult thing,” Davis said.