I got something in the mail last week that shook me up a bit. It was from the Massachusetts Department of Labor.

It was a 1099-G tax form from the state letting me know that I was going to be taxed on the more than $3,000 worth of unemployment income that I was given in 2020. There's only one problem: I've been lucky enough to have never collected a dime of unemployment money in my life.

So why is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under the impression that I was unemployed in 2020? The answer is simple: fraud.

I'm not sure how it happened, but someone must have applied for unemployment insurance under my name. The first thing I did, of course, was panic, which is exactly the wrong thing to do.

If there's one thing I've learned in the seminars I've attended about identity theft, the most important thing to do is to keep a calm, cool head when presented with news of this nature.

The bad guys will often try to throw you off balance by sending you a letter, or an email, that indicates you owe money, or that you are the victim of identity theft. They may then give you a website designed to "help" you out of the mess. Of course, that website will be set up to enter your name, birthdate, last four digits of your social – basically all of the sensitive information you would never share with the internet.

SouthCoast police departments that we spoke to confirmed that unemployment fraud, as well as other forms of fraud, are rampant right now. If you get a letter like this, it is recommended that you call your local police department and inform the state attorney general's office. Their fraud reporting form can be found here, or get it directly on mass.gov.

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