COLUMBUS, Ohio — Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio Jobs and Family Service officials say at least 1500 cases of fraud have been identified.
The crooks often use stolen personal data from employed individuals to attempt to obtain benefits, according to ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall.
"It's, kind of, unfortunately, a common fraud tactic to apply on behalf of someone who's still employed," she said.
"I just feel the government needs to do something as a while to better protect people," said Sarah Valler.
The Northeast Ohio mom received a letter from Ohio Jobs and Family Services confirming her PIN number for unemployment benefits Wednesday.
There was just one problem.
Sarah is still working at her job as a financial analyst.
"I have never applied for unemployment in my life," she said. "I'm still employed."
In fact, Valler said she has been busier than ever. She is working from home, caring for her 2-year-old son and managing a high-risk pregnancy.
"I'm already stressed out," she said. "I don't need extra stress to raise my blood pressure."
A fraud investigator contacted Sarah after News 5 reached out to ODJFS.
Valler said she was told her personal information was used to apply for unemployment benefits.
However, her swift action to raise an alarm means no one will case in using her name.
However, on top of a pandemic, a difficult pregnancy and putting in long days, she is also concerned about something else.
"I am worried, still, about the identity theft now," she said.
ODJFS says anyone who receives a letter with a PIN number who has not applied for unemployment benefits should immediately contact them.
Fraud victims should also get a copy of their credit reports and closely monitor their bank accounts.