Butler County police warn of new scam that joins other efforts to trick residents

FILE
Caption
FILE

Credit: Time Life Pictures/Via Getty Images

Credit: Time Life Pictures/Via Getty Images

An elderly Fairfield man received a message indicating his Social Security card may have been compromised, becoming the latest target of scams that have been detected throughout the area, police said.

A message included a phone number and instructions to be connected to the Social Security Administration. However, that number was for the city of Fairfield’s wastewater treatment plant.

Fairfield police Officer Doug Day said at that point, the man figured out it was a scam and hung up with a clerk at the treatment plant, but she called the city’s police department.

“Telephone and email scammers are pretending to be government employees. They may threaten you and may demand immediate payment to avoid arrest or other legal actions. Do not be fooled,” according to the Social Security Administration.

ExploreUnemployment fraud: What to do if you suspect someone filed a claim in your name

Scams like this could be isolated ― and Day said this is the only one they’ve been aware of in the past month ― or there could be numerous scammers, as with the hundreds of thousands of Ohio unemployment fraud cases happening now.

Day said the Social Security Administration will only contact you through the mail about any issues with cards or accounts. The elderly are primary targets for Social Security scams as they “are often generous people,” he said.

The rampant number of fraudulent Ohio unemployment claims is likely to have an impact on state and federal taxes, but the state’s tax department and Job and Family Services are providing advice to those hundreds of thousands of people scammed. Those Ohioans may soon receive tax forms stating they collected unemployment benefits when they did not apply, nor received money.

Since March 2020, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has flagged roughly 44,000 out of 1.7 million new filings for traditional unemployment as potentially fraudulent. Of the 1.4 million filings for expanded pandemic unemployment — which is designed for self-employed people so doesn’t require employer verification — they have flagged about 796,000 claims.

The extension of expanded unemployment in December came with additional reporting requirements meant to reduce fraud. The ODJFS fraud unit has 141 employees and plans to increase that number to 183 by the end of March.

Social Security scams

The Social Security Administration has issued warnings to law enforcement about scams through email and phone calls. Here’s what the agency advice:

  • If it’s a phone call, hang up.
  • The Social Security Administration will never threaten you or suspend Social Security Number
  • Do not give money or personal information. The agency will never demand immediate payment or require payment by cash, gift card, pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
  • If it’s a Social Security scam, report it to OIG.SSA.GOV.

Unemployment fraud

Ohio Job and Family Services offers a three-step guide on what to do if people suspect they’re a victim of unemployment fraud:

  • Report it to unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will issue a confirmation email to everyone who files a report with information about identity theft and protection, according to the agency. It will conduct investigations and if necessary issue corrections to the Internal Revenue Service on 1099s issued to victims.
  • Anyone who received an IRS form 1099-G stating they claimed benefits when they did not, does not need to report those benefits on their taxes, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. The tax department says if people did not apply for unemployment benefits, they should not include it as income state and federal tax returns. A corrected 1099-G is not needed to file state or federal tax returns, but the state tax department advises people to obtain a corrected form to avoid a future IRS or Ohio Department of Taxation audit.
  • People should protect their identity: