Apparently I’m Unemployed… Who Knew?

So last week I’m sitting at my desk at work and my phone rings.  J, one of our lovely HR folks, is on the line.

Mrs PoP:  [Mrs. PoP] here.

J: Oh good, you’re there… So you clearly still work for [Our Employer], right?

Mrs. PoP:  If I didn’t then I wouldn’t be here!

J:  Then I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.  Someone filed for unemployment benefits in your name…  With your social security number.

Mrs. PoP:  Well, crud.  That can’t be good.

 

My Identity Was Stolen

Since I definitely hadn’t filed for unemployment benefits, it was pretty obvious that someone had my name and SSN and was trying to use them for nefarious purposes.  So, I needed to do some damage assessment and control.

Here are the steps I have taken so far:

1.  Put Fraud Alerts On Both of Our Credit Reports.  You can call Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax to initiate a 90-day fraud alert if you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft.  No need to call all three.  They share fraud alert information, so your request is immediately passed to the other two credit bureaus.

To put a fraud alert on your file, use any of the below contact info.

  • Equifax: 1-877-576-5734; www.alerts.equifax.com
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/fraud
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com

2.  I pulled all 3 of my full credit reports.  I used www.annualcreditreport.com and pulled all three of my credit reports at once.  It had been at least a year since I pulled them, so I used up all of my free report pulls for the next 12 months, but I wanted to make sure there were no funny inquiries on any of the reports.  There weren’t.  Thank goodness.

3.  I called the Unemployment Benefits agency in Florida that the fraudster had filed with and told them that the person requesting unemployment benefits in my name was not me.  I asked them for any information that the fraudster had given as a part of their application that I could keep for my files.  The nice lady made my day.  She gave me the fraudster’s HOME ADDRESS.

Now that I knew my credit reports were locked down, and there was no funny business on them, I could appreciate the hilarity of the fact that the idiots didn’t use a PO Box or anything more anonymous when fraudulently filing for unemployment benefits.  So I did what any nosy person with access to the internet does.  I looked them up!  

4.  I google mapped the fraudster’s home.  Dude lives on a canal.  And has a pool.  Which, by the looks of it, is bigger than our pool.  Then I started poking around the property records database for that county and figured out that the fraudster’s home address is in fact a rental property.  I jotted down his landlord’s name and address for my files… just in case.

If this dude lived anywhere near me it would have been tempting to drive by the house and play Columbo.  Good excuse to buy a trenchcoat, right?  (f you don’t know who Columbo is, please watch this video for a much needed education.)

But as it turns out, our fraudster is living a couple of hours drive from the PoPs, so it wasn’t worth wasting the gas on him.  Heck, I was already wasting enough of my time on this as it was.

With my curiosity about the fraudster slightly sated, I had more work to do.

5.  Called the Social Security Agency.  I needed to confirm that no one was using my SSN to work illegally, or trying to claim any benefits.  I also set up an account with the social security agency online that will allow me to continue to monitor my work history on an ongoing basis since they’re not mailing statements out any longer.

6.  Called the sheriff’s office and filed a police report.  I chose to call our local sheriff’s office, but since I had the address of where the crime was actually committed I could have called over there as well.  I was able to fill out a police report with an awesome officer over the phone.  Why she needed to know my height and hair/eye color I’m not sure, but it was easy enough.  I gave Officer Awesome all the information I had on the fraudster, including the address the fraudster had given when requesting unemployment and the name and address of the owner of that house.

She said the basic procedure is that she sends this over to the sheriff’s department where the fraudster lives.  Then it’ll get assigned to someone over there, and I’ll probably have to follow-up in about a week and make sure that they actually act on this information.

Officer Awesome also added to my list of places to contact.  Yay.

7.  Filled out form 14039 with the IRS.  The IRS page on identity theft is actually a bit useful, unlike many of the others I ran across.  Form 14039 is an Identity Theft Affadavit.  This is only after the police report since they require the police report number as part of the affadavit.  I faxed it in, and have yet to hear anything back on it.  But I assume this will prevent someone else from trying to file taxes in my name and snatching all the extra witholdings I have set aside to cover the taxes on the rental income from our duplex.

8.  Filled out a complaint form with the FTC.  Honestly, I’m not 100% sure WHY I did this other than Officer Awesome said I should.  The FTC complaint site is here.  It was also very satisfying to check the box that says “Yes” next to the question as to whether I’d press charges against the fraudster.  Heck yeah I’d press charges!  Catch that dude(tte)!

9.  Called my banks/financial institutions to let them know.  There’s not a whole lot they can do, since the accounts are already password protected, but they did make a note on the account to request additional verification if anyone is requesting additional cards or anything silly like that.

And that’s where I’m at.  I’m still in the waiting stage to see if anything is going to happen in terms of the other sheriff’s office catching the fraudster.  And I have high hopes of appearing in court as a damaged victim.

 

Actual Damages?

Ironically, I’ve only recently taken an interest in my credit report/ratings and had signed up for the free credit monitoring service at Credit Sesame just a few weeks before this took place.  I’d also signed Mr. PoP up for free credit score monitoring from our fabulous credit union (PSECU), a benefit that’s apparently been offered for a while but we had never taken advantage of.  FWIW, I have no reason to believe any of those recent actions led to the fraudster getting my info.  

At the risk of speaking to soon, I think I’m quite lucky so far.  There is no damage to my credit, and so far I’ve incurred no costs other than my time.  There have been no fraudulent purchases in my name, and my 90-day fraud alert on my credit report will likely transition to a 7-year fraud alert on my credit report pending the outcome of the investigation.  (That’ll require some more forms and calls to the credit unions, but should be pretty straightforward with the paper trail I’ve established so far.)

Unlike the past several years when we purchased 3 properties, took out loans, bought a car, refinanced our house, and all sorts of other exciting financial stuff, we didn’t have any plans like that for this year.  So in an odd way, the fraudster chose a good time to be an inconvenience to the PoPs.

Hopefully I’m not being too optimistic since this isn’t 100% resolved yet.  But so far the only plan the fraudster is hindering was my tentative plan to try and churn some credit cards for sign-up bonuses to boost the holiday spending money this year.  (Hence why I had taken a recent interest in tracking our credit reports and scores more closely…)  Alas, not doing so is a small price to pay for increased peace of mind.

 

Have you ever had your identity stolen?  What happened?  Are there any other steps that you think I have missed in terms of locking down all of my information from fraudsters?  

71 comments to Apparently I’m Unemployed… Who Knew?

  • Oh my goodness, Mrs. PoP, how terrible. So glad that you were able to move quickly on this and stop that $#!% in his/her tracks! Lots of valuable info for all of us here – thanks. And here’s to hoping the trouble is done.
    Laurie @ The Frugal Farmer recently posted..January 2013 Financial RecapMy Profile

  • It sounds like you are on top of this! Way to be. And thanks for laying out a smart action plan in case this ever happens to me. This is one of those things I worry about everyone once in a while, so having a rational action plan will be really useful if it ever happens.
    Ross recently posted..Frugal February Challenge: Affording the Chicago MarathonMy Profile

  • ONly a couple hours away!?? I”d make it a little weekend trip FOR SURE to see this guy! I’d absolutely knock on his front door and confront him — bet no one has done that to him EVER for his fraudulent BS. Definitely time for a road trip! You can go through all the “right” avenues, but they probalby won’t catch him or do anything, but you’re one of the few who actually knows who it is! So knock on that guy’s door and put a scare in him.
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Overpriced Sunglasses at the Sunglass HutMy Profile

    • Haha, maybe if we’re ever in the neighborhood we’ll drive by, but it seems like asking for more trouble to confront the fraudster.

      I actually did speak with an officer in the fraudster’s neck of the woods and she said the last time there was a bunch of these the FBI got involved. More than likely, they tried this with more than just my name and SSN… so no guarantee, but that’s definitely in the realm of possibility.

  • […] Planting Our Pennies: Apparently, I’m Unemployed: Who Knew? […]

  • Wow I didn’t even know people did this! Ridiculous!

  • Wow, that’s just crazy. Glad it got caught! The closest I’ve had is someone use my credit card number to buy stuff up and down the West Coast. Thankfully the credit card company called me and get it all taken care of. From the looks of it I think you’ve covered all your bases.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Blog Posts That Ruled This Week, How Can it Be February Edition?My Profile

    • That’s awesome that your credit card company called you. Mine called me once, but all the charges were mine. I had moved and bought a new phone and couch on the same day in a new state =)

  • Wowzers!! Hopefully the inconvenience at least allows you to help the authorities catch someone scamming the system. Presumably this isn’t the first time that they have tried it, so it may result in several fraudulent claims being found. Excellent list of to-dos and process though, I’m sure someone will find this to be very useful when it happens to them!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..Tis the Season…To SaveMy Profile

    • Yeah, the officer I spoke with today basically said that it’s getting way more common than they’d like. So there’s a decent chance this will get lumped in with others and investigated/prosecuted that way.

  • I’ve been there and you’ve covered all the important bases.
    K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! recently posted..In The Eye Of A Financial StormMy Profile

  • Sorry, that sucks! Looks like in the US you can do so many things with a SSN and it is a very easy information to get… I got really annoyed with the bank today because I couldn’t pass my own security check and had to send a physical mail, but in retrospect they are helping their customers.
    Pauline recently posted..Friday recap, two wheels and a swim!My Profile

    • The problem is that it used to be information used for all sorts of purposes, so there are systems around that have the SSN of many people in them even if they’re not currently being used.

      I have a theory on where mine might have been stolen from, but no real way to confirm it more information on other victims comes to light.

  • I’m glad to hear you caught this early. Much smarter not going yourself. There are wonderfully intimidating officers of the law who are happy to help on such things. *grin*
    Alex recently posted..Life Lessons from Flo RidaMy Profile

    • Haha, true story. And if you saw our post just prior to this, you could be assured that there is no way I am physically intimidating enough to make anyone worry. Unless they’re about 5 years old. =)

  • Karen Anne

    I’ve had credit card numbers stolen, and I can see that it’s probably easy to do that – it only takes one crooked clerk or so on. But I wonder how they get Social Security numbers.

    • My going theory is that it’s from a medical provider’s records. About 5 or 6 years ago my insurance card # was my SSN, so there was no getting around using it. Bad apples in doctors offices or bad apples in any of the HR depts where I’ve worked could access a LOT. Not every HR person is as awesome as J (the one who discovered the fraud) is, sadly.

  • I am sorry this happened to you. You clearly have this under control though. The information in this post is invaluable. Thanks for detailing it all.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Weekly Personal Finance Blog RoundUp – 2/1/2013My Profile

    • It’s one of those things that I definitely don’t wish on anyone else, but I figured I’d put the info out there just in case. The online resources on what to do in these situations are pretty scattered and inconsistent.

  • Yikes. I only have three letters for you: WTF?
    eemusings recently posted..Guest post: How lump sum payments can get you out of debt fastMy Profile

  • Thanks for such a wealth of information and links to resources that I hope I’ll never need! You can bet that I’ll bookmark your post and keep my fingers crossed. Good luck in your own situation. Hope that you’ve totally squelched it and that the long arm of the law will whomp this ne’er-do-well good and proper.

  • I know, right?

    But I just think about what a PITA this would have been if it happened a year and a half ago instead. We were in the middle of getting a HELOC, then we refi’d our home mortgage, then we changed cellphone companies, then we got a new credit card… Now, nothing like that is on the horizon. So locking my credit down isn’t the end of the world.

  • […] Planting our pennies was a victim of unemployment fraud! […]

  • What an absolute nightmare! I am now a bit worried about who could have access to my national insurance number (similar to SSN I think)! I am very careful with it though.

    I’m sure you didn’t do this, but my general top tip in this area is DO NOT CARRY YOUR NATIONAL INSURANCE CARD IN YOUR WALLET! I really don’t know why our government sends out a handy wallet-sized card emblazoned with your name and NI number. It’s just asking for trouble!
    Bryallen @ The Frugal Graduate recently posted..Cheap meals: Lentil burgersMy Profile

    • Sounds like your national insurance number is pretty similar. And I completely agree – don’t carry the card in your wallet! Or any card that might have the number on it (older forms of ID like old VA cards had it but are being phased out now).

  • […] Apparently I’m Unemployed… Who Knew? Planting Our Pennies […]

  • Did the same thing as you have done. As for the IRS, I spoke with them and they record your information quickly but you may not hear back for many months. However, once you put them on notice you are not liable for any erroneous payment they may make to the fraudster. I am not sure if they code your status to check any return filed for fraud.
    STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) recently posted..Estate Planning 2013: Now What? A Must Read For EveryoneMy Profile

  • I’m sorry to hear about the hassle that you’ve had to deal with. Identity theft can really turn your life upside down.
    Someone stole our credit card numbers and tried to buy a cigar online with it. Luckily the bank’s fraud dept. caught it and issued us a new number. We’re hyper vigilant about it now.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..The Benefits of a Mortgage Free RetirementMy Profile

  • That Columbo character is brilliant lol. I didn’t realize there was so many steps to go through to resolve such an issue but looks like you’ve been doing everything you could on your part. I’m really thankful I haven’t been the target of identity theft before. It’s pretty low for someone to steal anyone else’s identity. Not only are they causing trouble for the victim, but it’s also messing up unemployment benefits system.
    Liquid recently posted..Fiscal Update – Jan 2013 – New Year BumpMy Profile

  • Wow, that’s crazy! What a dumb thing to do by applying for unemployment. Do they not know the state contacts your past employer? Actually, it the employer does not respond, the person filing the claim automatically is awarded payments. Maybe some companies don’t respond? I’m glad you caught it. I’ve never had my identity stolen, but I have had fraudulent charges on my business AMEX card, one from a dental group in Montana for $1500. The dental group did not exist. AMEX corrected the charges,but it is scary how people get your information.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Eyes on the Dollar 20/20 Roundup #24-Oh No, You Didn’tMy Profile

  • Nothing surprises me anymore. Just reading what you had to go through to protect yourself just goes to show how much we put ourselves out there. Good thing you were hot on it….
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..Mr.CBB’s Spinach and Ricotta FettuccineMy Profile

  • I’m so happy that you moved quickly and were able to get the identity thief’s information. Hopefully this will be behind you quickly and there won’t be any more additional hassles.
    Elle recently posted..Get Your Money Right Before Buying a HouseMy Profile

  • […] Apparently I’m Unemployed, Who Knew? at Planting Our Pennies. Some tried to steal Mrs. PoP’s identity. She should let Kitty PoP use their yard as a litter box. […]

  • This incident can actually happen to anyone. Thanks for sharing your experience and how you dealt with it.
    Sarah Park recently posted..How to Get a Low Mortgage RateMy Profile

  • […] at Eyes on the Dollar included our post Apparently I’m Unemployed, Who Knew? in her Weekly Roundup, and Harry at Your PF Pro included us in the Valentine’s Edition of […]

  • […] Wallet included out post on unemployment benefits fraud (Apparently I’m Unemployed…Who Knew?) In the Carnival of Personal Finance Superbowl Edition. […]

  • […] worked with us when it came to that little issue of my identity being stolen, and he keeps trying to figure out ways to save us more money to see if we can stack expenses to […]

  • […] few months ago, I found myself the unexpected victim identity fraud in the form of of unemployment benefit fraud. I followed all the steps to protect myself in that article, and have been since victimized again. […]

  • Laurin

    I just had this happen to me. I was shocked that anyone would actually do this. After back and forth with the local police and letters to other companies, my case was dropped. It was investigated as far as getting the UI Benefits debit card transactions and trying to access the ATM camera files. Unfortunately, I caught this almost a year after the culprit stopped using the card and the banks retention policies for the ATM photos was anywhere from 3-6 months. I really think that banks should consider a 2 year minimum policy for holding this data. In my case it could have brought justice, but instead I am left wondering what’s next. Thank you for the list of things to check into. I’ll be on the phone all day tomorrow it looks like.

  • Lisa

    Funny, I just got an unemployment compensation letter to my job for me. I am the HR person. Unemployment will not give me ANY information on the person filing for me!!!

  • I just got an unemployment compensation letter to my job for me 2 days ago. Apparently this is very common. So frustrating. And like Lisa here Unemployment will not give me ANY information on the person filing for me. I am still waiting to hear back from SS Agency so I can inform them. sigh

  • Note2

    Mrs PoP, Did you ever find out if the fraudster was arrested?
    Or any other actions you may have done.

  • Thanks, this information was very helpful. I recieved an unemployment letter at my home today and i have been working with my employer fror 10 years.

  • Heidi

    So this happened to a friend of mine but before I was let on to it they had collected $25,000 in unemployment from a precious employer that is no longer in business. Now I am fighting this but in the mean time my choices were have my wages garnished or pay $600 a month back and they take all my tax return every year. Do you have any advice as to wear to start? I have come up against walls every turn I take

  • David Johnson

    This is very common now and I am not sure how in the world they get the information.

  • David Johnson

    This is very common now and I am not sure how in the world they get the information. My wife and myself just got call from HR on the same thing.. don’t know what to do.. not sure where did they get the information.

  • Thankful for this article

    I actually came across this article via my HR manager! A couple days ago THE SAME EXACT thing happened to me. My manager sent me this article to help and it has greatly – thank you! I have followed your steps exactly but what I can’t believe is all the wonderful helpful people you came across! Maybe I don’t sound as nice as you. But it seems I can’t get the docs from the unemployment agency to file a police report. I can’t get an appoint with the police department for three weeks! And the lady from the social security office gave me the number to a singles hot line instead of the FTC (which I am trying not to take personally). I also live in FL. I think the bad guys are getting away with it because they know there’s too much red tape on the side of the “good guys”. Regardless, this article is very helpful! Thank you.

  • HR Manager

    Thanks so much for your thorough information on this topic. I’m an HR Manager who received an unemployment claim today for a current employee. We had already done most of things you listed, but the Social Security Admin was something we hadn’t thought of. When we googled the address (the unemployment office did give us the address this person used), it turned out to be a McDonald’s!
    Thanks again, I hope there has been a successful resolution for you.

  • Unemployed for real

    I actually received a letter from the IRS saying my taxes were going to be reviewed in the 2013 year. I had not filed yet. This is how I found out my SSN had been compromised, then when I went to file unemployment I was already on unemployment. So since I had to stop the fraudulent claim.. now I can not collect.UGH!.. I do not understand how the State of Florida could make such a mistake??? The house was for sale at the address where the filing had taken place. the phone number was a LAN line in a whole other county. Who we hiring in this State to protect our identity.??????

    When you contact the FTC an get the affidavit, it will extend you credit report for 7 years for free.I found that out from the FTC when I called them to provide them more updates.The credit reporting agencies FDIC approved will not tell you about the 7 year fraud extension, but they sure will try to sell it to you.

    I am stuck in such a loop with DEO Department Employment Opportunities and this Identity Theft it is crazy! Anyone have a job?

  • Unemployed for real

    Oh and SS Adminstration does not care about your SSN being compromised…They tell you to call the FTC How is that? I turn 65 I could possibly find out someone has been claiming my benefits since my age of 62 couldn’t they? Still the lack of concern in this Branch of Government concerns me.

  • Not Unemployed

    This just happened to me today. I got the notice for application of benefits from my HR person. Called the tx workforce commission, answered some questions. I also filed a report with the FTC online, and put a 90 fraud alert on my Transunion credit report. My HR person at work will also respond to the unemployment application and verify my claim of having not claimed…
    You know, thinking back to how many times I have HAD to supply my SSN in order to do business, makes me realize that you cannot keep this number private.

  • just hacked

    Thanks for posting this. This JUST happened to me (my HR rep emailed me the news) and I was directed to the FTC website only. Which was not that helpful. THIS is helpful. I appreciate the steps!

  • Peanut

    Two years ago, my husban’s social was fraudulently used for a tax refund. We did many of he things mentioned in your blog such as alerting the crediting agencies and IRS, obtaining a pin for future tax return submissions, ect. We also subscribed to a credit monitoring service. AND today we have learned that his social was likely used to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits. Thank you for posting this valuable information. Looks like it is round two, alerting all the necessary agencies about this fraud. We feel so violated.

  • Norman

    I dont know why in this world I have to work hard and pay tax and SS to the Government when they are not doing their jobs.We decent hard working people being treat less than these fraudsters.

  • Norman

    This Happen to me but the fraudter should not even thinking about my credit.Because my credit is worst than his credit.

  • I just want to thank you so much for posting this. I found out at 3:30PM yesterday that someone filed for unemployment with the company I currently work at using my SSN and name. The information you provided was the most important that I found. I followed every direction you gave and I thank you so much!!!!
    Unfortunately our Unemployment office was the least helpful, but everyone else was awesome. Just signed up for lifelock ultimate too. I will do that for a year.

    Thanks again,
    James

  • This just happened to me yesterday. HR called me with the info. So far I have reported to local police dept, my bank, Equifax, they share info with the other 2 bureaus, and credit card companies, will be very busy today with contacting agencies suggested from these postings. The police officer called the Unemployment hot line number I was given and called me with a contact name and # to actually speak with someone that had started an investigation. I know the state the claim was originated from, which isn’t the state I live in. I feel so violated.

  • Cynthia

    We just got a letter in the mail that my husband applied for unemployment. It is fraudulent. He has the same job he’s had for years. He is working at it RIGHT NOW. I’ve already called FL unemployment fraud, the bank, and the major credit card co. I also put a credit reporting agency alert. Will try to find out where to call social security. I cannot thank you enough for this information.

  • Alex

    I just received a called from my fiance saying that her old job called her cause she had reported unemployment. We had no idea that could be done. So we are now researching information on identity theft which is clearly happening here.

    Thank you so much for this post, I had to read it all, it made my day. You made it easy to read and with a lot of information that we are going to need.

    Wish us luck and hopefully nothing was damaged.

  • Mrs.MC

    Thank you for providing this info. Just got a call about the same thing and my HR referred me this website as far as steps I should take with this. very detailed

  • Ms. Cox

    I got a letter today saying that I had earnings that I did not report to unemployment. I’m like what is this? I’ve been working for 14 years and never filed for unemployment before in my life. How in the world do people get away with that? What do I do to prove my case? I seen where people got calls from HR…why didn’t I receive a call?

  • Dagi

    Wow, this just happen to my daughter, she is only 20 and has no clue so to speak when it comes to
    that stuff. I called 1-800-204-2418 and instead of waiting I left my phone number for a return call
    which we got a couple of hours later. Before we even could finish the sentence he said: oh someone filed in your name. The case is closed and we are aware of it. Somehow I don’t believe that this is true. Thank you for listing all the steps you took, we will follow them exactly.
    The agent would not release the address where the money would have gone to.
    Dagi

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