Unemployment fraud on the rise

According to federal investigators, there’s an epidemic of unemployment fraud, and retiree Dorothy Brooks is a victim. You can imagine her shock when she got a notice in the mail that she owes taxes on thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits she never applied for. 

"It was the end of January," she said that she received a 1099-G form telling her she had received $14,372 in 2020 in retirement benefits. 

Brooks told the FOX 5 I-Team the last time she applied for unemployment was briefly in the 80s. But the IRS form mailed to her showed differently. 

"The Internal Revenue wants me to pay taxes on money I don’t have," she said. 

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She’s not alone. The US Labor Department’s inspector general reports $63 billion in unemployment fraud or errors, some of it stemming from COVID-19 related claims. 

How much the Georgia Labor Department is seeing is unclear right now, but the FOX 5 I-Team tipline is hearing regularly from viewers now distressed after receiving a 1099-G form that shows the government benefit checks someone has been receiving in their good name. 

"You know you hear these things all of the time, you know people becoming victims of fraud," she said worriedly. "The first thing I went to do was to call the Department of Labor."

Commissioner Mark Butler of the Georgia Department of Labor said in a sit-down interview that these fraud claims are coming in now that tax season has begun. 

"The first thing you need to know is that somebody out there who is very sophisticated has stolen your identity," Butler said.

The commissioner said to report it immediately. Butler says go to the Labor Department's online portal to report fraud. 

"In order for us to process and give you a corrected 1099-G, we have to investigate it," Butler said, guiding FOX 5's Dana Fowle through the process.  "So, it’s like going and filing a police report with us. You go online, select the fraud, select the 1099-G, fill it out with as much information as you can possibly give us, then it will go into the queue to be investigated."

The commissioner said you do not need to call or speak to anyone. If you’ve filed, they’ve got it. Just try, as hard as it is, to wait patiently for your corrected 1099-G form. Also, report this fraud to the IRS because your corrected 1099-G form may not arrive until after the April 15th tax filing deadline. 

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