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'This is unacceptable': Tarrant County officials warn that unemployment benefit identity theft is on the rise

People are advised to document everything if they become a victim of identity theft and notify the police immediately.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — Editor's note: The video above is from April 5. 

The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office is warning people about the latest identity theft scam happening around the country. It involves people filing for unemployment benefits using someone else's personal information. 

"Many people learn they are victims when they receive paperwork about a claim they didn't file, or when their employer notifies them about a claim," Tarrant County officials said in a news release Tuesday morning. 

People are advised to document everything if they become a victim of identity theft and notify the police immediately. 

"You have to be proactive,” said Lloyd Whelchel, an assistant criminal district attorney and chief of the White Collar Crimes team. "You need to clearly establish that this was not you."

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Tarrant County officials shared these steps to take if your identity has been stolen:

  • File an ID theft report with your police department.
  • File an ID theft claim with the Texas Workforce Commission or contact the fraud department via email at TWC.fraud@twc.state.tx.us or call 800-252-3642. 
  • File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud or call their hotline at 866-720-5721. 
  • Consider contacting a national credit bureau to put a fraud alert on your account or freeze your credit.

According to the release, between March 2020 and April 2021, the Texas Workforce Commission received more than 4.4 million unemployment applications. TWC said 611,000 of those claims were suspicious and most were blocked before benefits were paid. 

"This is unacceptable," said Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson. "At a time when people need help, they are having their identities stolen and fake unemployment claims filed."