CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Fraud and identity theft could account for 10 percent or more of the unemployment claims filed last year through Ohio’s unemployment system, and many thousands of local Ohioans could be victims.
But one Northern Kentucky man says he’s been dragged into the racket as well.
Independence resident Danny Gribbins has been retired for five years. He says he’s never lived or worked in Ohio. Still, in November he says he received debit cards with money for Ohio unemployment benefits he never applied for.
“It was a problem,” he said. “It continues to be a problem, and if there is any progress, I do not know what it is.”
Gribbins has ample company on the other side of the river. According to Ohio Jobs and Family Services, at least 166,000 claims were filed for unemployment insurance in 2020 without the supposed claimant knowing.
The number — 166,000 — comes from Ohio Unemployment Director Kimberly Henderson, who said in early January the state had to stop that many IRS 1099-G forms from going out. Around 1.7 million went out in total.
The forms are sent to taxpayers if a government (here, the state of Ohio) made one of several kinds of payments (here, unemployment compensation) to a resident.
“If you received a 1099 from us around receipt of unemployment income and you didn’t apply for the benefits personally, it means that someone has applied on your behalf, and so it is important to report that,” Henderson said.
It could be the tip of the iceberg. Henderson explained several hundred thousand more 1099-G forms could already in the mail en route to Ohioans who never filed for unemployment on their own behalf.
Count at least one Kentuckian among them. Gribbins got his Ohio 1099-G form on Wednesday.
He says he called the number on the form to report the fraud and spent several minutes navigating through the voice menu.
“Then at the end, it says, ‘We’re getting a whole lot of fraud. Please call back at another time,’” he said. “That’s the extent of the message. They do direct you to use their website, but I’m not that great with it, so I’d rather talk to somebody if I could.”
There are legitimate reasons to receive a 1099-G form. In Gribbins case, he says it’s because someone stole his identity.
“It’s just more than I need to deal with,” he said.
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