SPRINGFIELD, Ga. (WSAV) – Adam West is a disabled veteran who was surprised recently to get a tax form in the mail which said he had collected nearly $5,000 in unemployment benefits in 2020 and now he owes taxes on that income.
His simple answer: it wasn’t him. “All I know is they used my name and my Social Security number, that’s all I know,” West told News 3.
West is concerned because he collects disability benefits and also gets benefits from Veterans Affairs.
“I’m just at a loss because this could affect my disability through Social Security and the VA payments that I receive because I can’t be having any other income coming in,” he said.
West said he went to the Georgia Department of Labor website and filled out the form indicating he’s a victim of fraud, but since then, he’s been waiting for an email or a phone call. He’s heard nothing.
“The online appointments say ‘check back Monday at 8 a.m.’ So I checked back Monday and it says no appointments were available,” West said. “And no one answers the phone or it just hangs up.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Labor, Kersha Cartwright, indicated to us that “West will receive a call.” She also said since the DOL began sending out the tax forms at the end of January, they have already received 700 complaints about identity theft fraud.
Cartwright says the DOL will investigate the claims and then adjust the tax form (1099-G) to reflect the fraud and to inform the Internal Revenue Service. But she said it’s not clear when all the investigations will be complete, especially since there may be more claims of fraud coming in.
“With the amount of fraud that’s being reported at this time we may not be able to fully investigate the reports and readjust the 1099-G and send it back to the IRS before people file their taxes,” she said. “So that’s why we’re advising people to take the step themselves of letting the IRS know they are a victim of identity theft.
The GDOL advised victims should do the following:
- File a police report with your local police department. Obtain a copy of the report that you can provide to creditors and credit agencies.
- Change passwords on your email, banking, and other personal accounts.
- Make a list of credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions where you do business. Tell them you are a victim of identity theft and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account.
- Get a copy of your credit report and dispute any fraudulent transactions. You can request credit reports online from the 3 major credit reporting agencies
a. Equifax: 800-349-9960 or freeze your credit online
b. Experian: 888-397-3742 or freeze your credit online
c. TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or freeze your credit online
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file. You can do this by contacting just one of the credit agencies to add an alert with all three agencies.
- Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has a wealth of information for identity theft victims, including assistance with a recovery plan. Phone: 877-438-4338
- If you suspect that someone is using your SSN for work purposes, contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to report the problem. They will review your earnings with you to ensure they are correct.
- Consider filing a complaint with the US Department of Justice National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF)
- Let the IRS know you are a victim of identity theft by filing the File Form 14039, Department of the Treasury – Internal Revenue Service Identity Theft Affidavit, with the IRS. More information can be found here
West told us Monday he has already done many of the things on the list. Now he is just waiting to make sure the DOL does launch an investigation into his case.