Avoiding Unemployment FraudUpdated February 9, 2016 Unemployment
Unemployment insurance fraud is taken very seriously and punishable by law. Those who commit fraud may have misdemeanor and felony charges brought against them and often end up facing large penalty fees, incarceration or both. If you knowingly submit false or misleading information or omit pertinent information on your weekly benefit claim to increase your benefits, you are committing fraud.
Examples of unemployment insurance fraud:
- Beginning to work, but not reporting work, work hours, or income
- Inaccurately reporting gross income (pre-tax)
- Failure to report a job separation
- Receiving benefits while incarcerated
- Giving any false information
- Omitting any relevant information
- Using another person’s information to file a claim
It is important that you submit accurate, timely reports to avoid committing fraud, which can be accidental or intentional. Delaying weekly claims, omitting information, providing inaccurate details and answering questions untruthfully are all ways of committing fraud.
Check Your Eligibility
You should take extra care when submitting weekly claims to ensure that all information is complete and accurate. Even simple and honest mistakes can be a red flag for a fraudulent claim and cause benefits to be delayed or stopped completely. It can often take weeks to resolve these issues, so doing your due diligence to avoid making mistakes on your weekly claims is always in your best interest.
Often times committing unemployment fraud might not seem like a big deal. It can often be the difference between reporting vacation time or the decision to head back to school. Though it might be tempting to avoid reporting these circumstances, fraud is being committed nonetheless, and you are putting yourself at risk of prosecution. Consider these scenarios:
Andrew was laid off and has been receiving unemployment benefits for 6 weeks. After no luck finding a new position, Andrew decides he’s done being an employee and dedicates himself to starting a business full time. While he starts up his business, Andrew continues receiving unemployment benefits. Although this might seem okay since Andrew isn’t making any income yet, his choice to work on his business full time makes Andrew unavailable to work and ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. In a case like this, Andrew can be charged with fraud.
Melanie has been receiving unemployment benefits and searching for a job for 2 months since her company closed and she lost her job. She decides to take some time to celebrate “funemployment” and heads on a 2-week vacation out of the country. Since Melanie has stopped actively looking for work and isn’t available to work during those 2 weeks, she is committing fraud if she continues receiving benefit payments while on vacation.
Learn how to report unemployment fraud.