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Identity theft, unemployment fraud causing issues for Brownsville woman

1 week 4 days 3 hours ago Wednesday, June 09 2021 Jun 9, 2021 June 09, 2021 10:08 PM June 09, 2021 in News - Local

Identify theft is causing issues for one Brownsville woman who says someone used her personal information to file unemployment claims.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) saw about nine years' worth of claims in 2020 alone, leaving the door wide open for people like Sarah Dziubanek to become victims of unemployment fraud.

Dziubanek says the thought of filing for unemployment never crossed her mind, so when she received a tax form from the TWC in January, she was shocked.

"I was like, 'what?'— It was $9,160," Dziubanek said, adding that she never saw a dime of that money.

Dziubanek immediately put a lock on her credit reports, filed a report with the Brownsville Police Department and a fraud claim with TWC.

In June, Dziubanek got another letter from TWC stating they overpaid her the benefits she says she did not receive.

"They want $1,167 for me to pay back," Dziubanek said. "I've already been sent to collections."

James Brensen with the TWC says they've been able to stop 97% of fraudulent claims, but in cases like Dziubanek's where it's too late, help may take some time.

"In the case that overpayment is attributed to fraud, you are not on the hook for that," Brensen said. "However, there might be a delay in the system."

While she's understanding, Dziubanek hopes others will be on the lookout.

Brensen says Texans play a significant role in preventing fraud.

He says monitoring your credit reports, being careful with your personal and financial information online, and making sure you open mail from a government agency is vital if someone tries to steal your identity.

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