PHOENIX - Many Arizonans found out they were victims of unemployment identity theft after receiving a tax letter in the mail showing they've gotten unemployment when they actually didn't.
A Valley woman says she got a tax letter in the mail claiming she was given thousands in state unemployment. But the problem is that she’s been retired for years.
The unemployment tax letters are being sent out to every unemployment account holder. So some people are opening up their mailboxes to find out their identities were stolen and now it’s up to them to clean up the mess.
Christine Lahaie got a Department of Economic Security (DES) unemployment debit cards in the mail last year like so many others.
"I said, 'I never asked for unemployment benefits. I retired in 2014. I don’t need any unemployment," she explained. So she did exactly what you’re supposed to do and contacted the state agency to say it was fraudulent and her identity was stolen.
"I had assumed it was taken care of and did not have a clue that it wasn't taken care of until the 1099 came," Lahaie said. A 1099-G form claimed she owed taxes on $3,400 dollars of unemployment income.
DES and the IRS have been gearing up to handle incorrectly sent tax forms because of massive fraud in the unemployment system.
There are a lot of people who are fed up with the process, like Michael Martinez, who did actually collect unemployment but says the tax forms are off by hundreds of dollars.
"Especially with the IRS, you want things to be down to the lowest tenth of a cent right," Martinez said.
DES told FOX 10 that Arizonans should alert the agency if they got a tax form in error or if the information is wrong on it.
Lahaie is upset she’s the one who has to handle it now even though she alerted the state of the fraud months ago, saying, "I was really disappointed nobody had followed up and done anything they were supposed to do. Now the burden is on me."
To report you've received incorrect or fraudulent tax forms, go to des.az.gov/1099G-report.
The IRS says if DES doesn't get back to you in time, file your taxes correctly and only pay what you owe.