February 14, 2021

Low-income Ohioans at risk from unemployment fraud | News, Sports, Jobs

Low-income Ohioans at risk from unemployment fraud | News, Sports, Jobs

The number of identities stolen in order to make fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits has reached the hundreds of thousands in Ohio.

According to information given to the Community Legal Aid, more than 760,000 victims of widespread fraud have had their personal information used to open credit accounts and other claims like jobless benefits. Police reports in the Mahoning Valley have documented dozens since the beginning of 2021, including Howland, Austintown and Warren.

A scan of Warren police reports show there were 18 complaints for identity fraud from Feb. 1 to 10, and 31 identity fraud reports made during the month of January.

According to Community Legal Aid, all victims carry a potential tax liability, since unemployment benefits are considered taxable income. The Legal Aid group is warning those compromised that the IRS and the Ohio State Department of Taxation will act as though benefits were received, unless they are notified otherwise.

According to Jennifer van Dulmen, deputy director at Community Legal Aid, the fraud carries another risk for Ohio’s poor.

Unemployment benefits can be considered income when agencies determine eligibility for public assistance programs like food stamps, Medicaid, daycare assistance, and subsidized housing. They could also impact income-based Social Security benefits, such as SSI.

Read more in Monday’s Tribune Chronicle.

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