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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Hawaii’s Labor Department declines to say how much lost to unemployment imposter fraud

Question: Like others you have written about, I got a tax notice for unemployment benefits I never sought or received. I tried to call the DLIR to report the fraud as instructed, but I never got through and I can’t spend all day trying. Is there another way to report this?

Answer: Yes, you can mail in a fraud report, according to the webpage for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Unemployment Insurance division. Here are the instructions:

If you received a 1099-G form from Hawaii’s DLIR even though you never filed for or received unemployment benefits in 2020, you can fill out a Declaration of Identity Theft form at 808ne.ws/idtheftform, download and print the form and mail it to UI fraud investigators. In your mailer, include a copy of the 1099-G form and any other documentation showing that a fraudulent claim for unemployment benefits was filed in your name. Mail the envelope to: Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Unemployment Insurance Division, Attn: Special Activities, 830 Punchbowl St., Room 324, Honolulu, HI 96813

In case the direct link to the declaration form changes, you can also find it on the division’s home page at 808ne.ws/hidol.

Or, if you prefer, you can keep trying to get through to the DLIR Call Center at 762-5751 or 762-5752. Choose Option 4 to report fraud, DLIR Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio reiterated Friday.

As we’ve previously reported, the IRS says people in your situation should seek a corrected 1099-G from the issuing agency. “Taxpayers who are unable to obtain a timely, corrected form from states should still file an accurate tax return, reporting only the income they received,” according to the IRS guidance, which you can read at 808ne.ws/irsid.

Bill Kunstman, a spokesman for the DLIR, said the department would issue a corrected 1099-G after you notify the department.

Imposter fraud like you and multiple other readers have described has been a problem in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program since that federally funded program began early in the pandemic. Fraud was less common in the regular UI program, but as of November has become more pronounced, Perreira-­Eustaquio said on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii webcast Friday (808ne.ws/spot lighthawaii).

She said the department has new protocols in place to identify and halt fraudulent claims as early as possible. She urged employers, employees and members of the public to alert the department about fraudulent claims, as you’ve tried to do. The DLIR announced Friday that it had received $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to combat fraud.

The department wouldn’t say Friday how many imposter fraud claims have been reported in Hawaii, or estimate their total cost. Instead, Kunstman offered an emailed statement from Perreira-Eustaquio, who said: “Unemployment insurance fraud remains an issue across the country and Hawaii is not immune. To protect the integrity of Hawaii’s unemployment program, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations cannot discuss details involving on-going fraud prevention tactics, investigations, or the scope of potentially fraudulent activity. To do so would jeopardize system security and put the entire unemployment program at risk. The state continues to actively monitor potential fraud and utilizes both front-end and back-office fraud prevention measures, as well as coordinates with other states to stay informed about emerging fraudulent practices.”

Mahalo

A heartfelt mahalo to a kind physician at Kaiser Permanente, his neighbor, and a gentleman who helped my mom when she fell face forward while walking in Manoa. My mom is 88 years old and when she fell, I could not lift her. A gentleman saw me struggling and lifted her up as she was bleeding from her face and mouth. A woman wheeled over a chair for my mom to sit on and quickly went to get her neighbor, who is a doctor. The doctor examined my mom and even offered to drive us to emergency care. I was not able to get the names of those who helped me, but I want to sincerely thank them for all their help. My mom is doing much better and she, too, is truly grateful for the caring people who came to her aid. Thank you all so very much! — K.H.


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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