By Brian New

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – While millions of Texans lost their job in 2020, James Darst was not one of them.

Yet the North Texas man recently received a 1099-G tax form in the mail stating he was paid unemployment benefits and now owns taxes on it.

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“They sent that to the IRS and it’s not me,” Darst said.

The Texas Workforce Commission says it identified 19,062 cases of identity theft in 2020 – more than ten times as many cases as in 2019.

The state’s unemployment agency says most fraud cases are caught before any money is paid out but with unemployment tax forms recently sent out, there are likely fraud cases just now being discovered.

Darst learned he was a victim of identity theft when his employer received a notice from TWC in November about benefits requested.

Since the notice from TWC was sent through the mail and Darst’s company that was working remotely at the time, his company did not see the notice in time to refute the unemployment claim before payments began.

For weeks after, Darst and his employer tried to reach the TWC to report the suspected fraud but were unable to get through on the TWC fraud hotline.

“Here are all these people that can’t get benefits and need them. And here I am where someone is stealing my benefits and I can’t even get that reported and resolved,” Darst said.

After the CBS 11 I-Team reached out to the TWC about Darst’s case, the fraudulent payments were stopped and Darst was given a letter to submit to the IRS notifying the agency how he was a victim of identity theft.

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TWC says to report suspected fraud call its fraud hotline at (800) 252-3642 or submit your information via email to TWC.fraud@TWC.state.tx.us.

Identity theft victims should also:

1. Report the theft to the local police department and get an incident report and number

2. Consult the Federal Trade Commission website (checklist of further actions is available on this site)

3. Contact one of the three credit reporting agencies and ask for a free fraud alert be placed on your credit report

· Equifax – 800-349-9960

· Experian – 888-397-3742

· TransUnion – 888-909-8872

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