I am sure many of you have heard about the fraudulent claims that have been submitted in Illinois for unemployment benefits. After reading about this, I immediately decided to freeze my credit. This prevents anyone from opening credit in your name.
The FBI put out a new warning yesterday about widespread unemployment fraud in Illinois, but this is also occurring across the nation. This is one of the fastest growing scams in the country right now. How does this work? The scammer applies for unemployment benefits in your name, and you receive a debit card in the mail. The scammer then goes back into the system and requests that the funds be redirected into an account that they have set up. The unemployment scheme also has tax repercussions because if unreported, you will receive a tax form from the government that says you have received these benefits, and they will be taxable income to you. You can report this directly to the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI or www.tips.FBI.gov.
It is imperative that you freeze your credit now. When you do this, make sure to actually read your credit report to make sure that there is not a "soft" inquiry into your credit from the IDES. This would be a tipoff that someone is trying to use your information to apply for unemployment benefits. If you see an inquiry from the Small Business Administration, someone may have taken a loan out in your name and you should contact the SBA inspector's office at 800-767-0385.
The whole idea of freezing your credit report is so that someone cannot open a new account in your name, but you need to be monitoring your existing accounts as well to make sure that they are not being used by someone else for fraudulent reasons.
Here is how you can contact each of the credit bureaus to freeze your credit.
Make sure to monitor you bank accounts to be aware of any unrecognized deposits as these can be an indication that someone may try to wire money out of your account. It is important to keep proof that you have reported any fraud. This can be done by taking a screen shot of your claim and saving it in a folder that you have created. This will be useful in the event that you receive a tax form that says you received unemployment benefits next year. You will be able to prove that you reported this promptly and that you do not in fact owe the tax on this income.
If you need help with establishing a comprehensive plan, please contact me to set up an introductory call to see how I may be able to help you to organize, grow and protect your assets.
About the Author
Patti Hughes is a Chicago Fee-Only Financial Planner. Lake Life Wealth Advisory Group provides comprehensive and objective financial planning, retirement planning, and investment management to help clients organize, grow and protect their assets through life’s transitions. She is a fiduciary, and does not sell products or earn commissions, so she truly acts in the best interests of her clients.