Identity theft cases involving unemployment claims spiking in Tarrant County, officials say


he Tarrant County District Attorney sent out a warning about rampant identity theft as criminals capitalize on large numbers of unemployment claims. 

Officials say the situation is so bad the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office is receiving three to four reports about the fraud every day.

The district attorney's office says if you find out that your name has been used by a criminal, it is not enough for your employer to report the fraud. You need to file a report with law enforcement so you have a record you may need years from now.

"Very stressful, I've been working 40 years. First time I've been laid off and never been fired," said Deborah Donnell, fraud victim.

On top of the stress of losing her job last month as a physical therapy scheduler, Donnell is now fighting to clear her name to receive much needed unemployment benefits. 

"Before I was let go, I received unemployment papers in the mail. Someone had filed in my name," she said.

Weeks have gone by and the Texas Workforce Commission is telling the Fort Worth woman that she needs to call back daily to see when her name is cleared. But getting further guidance has not been easy. 

"I talked to several people and everyone is telling me different things," she said.

If you are a victim, Lloyd Whelchel, chief of the DA's white collar crimes unit, says it could come back to haunt you years from now.

"If you get notice from your employer, employer will tell you they will respond. Don't be satisfied. Notify local law enforcement. They will give you a report number, you should keep that number with you," he said.

Whelchel says in addition to law enforcement and the three credit bureaus, you should also tell the IRS. 

"Give federal government notice. May not be this year or next year, may be two to three years down the road, but if someone made a false claim under your name, in another state for example, you are going to get a bill from that state or the IRS saying you owe back taxes," he said.