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Unemployment Fraud


City Mouse
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I heard lots of stories about unemployment fraud early on in the pandemic. Many months ago my DH got a call from his HR department to verify that he was still employed as they has received notice that he had filed for unemployment. He had not. HR was able to invalidate that claim for unemployment. We’ve been watching, but we haven’t found any other evidence of identity theft going on. In his case, I feel like the system worked to find and prevent a false claim.

Today I received a debit card in the mail so that I can access my unemployment benefits. At first I was confused. My DD lost her job last week and did apply for unemployment. I thought maybe that there had been a mix up of some kind in her account, but she double checked and that was not the case. So I called our state unemployment office. As I was on the phone reading the information off the card to the agent, I realized that the card was using my maiden name which I have not used in 30 years. The agent was able to freeze the account and will turn it over to their fraud department. She did verify that my correct Social Security number was not used on this account. 
 

This brings up additional questions for me about our unemployment system in the US. Obviously there is a lack of oversight somewhere. I’ve never held a job using that name in this state, and I haven’t used that name for any employment in 30 years. I don’t understand how that could be a valid claim. I assume that a previous employer of mine never bothered to verify my employment, or possibly false employment information was given. Also, how could a claim be made with an incorrect social security number? 


I’m not  surprised that there are many attempts at filing false claims, but I am surprised at how easy it was for someone to get the false claim approved. If I had been a different kind of person, I could have gotten the money off this card even though I was not entitled to it, or even asked for it. 
 

I wonder if there is a way to improve the system and still get timely help to the people who do qualify while weeding out all these fraudulent claims.

(I am making a police report to document just in case there may additional identity theft issues later)

 

 

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55 minutes ago, Selkie said:

Same thing has happened to me twice and my dh once in the past year. So annoying. And we are business owners who cannot file for unemployment even if we wanted to. It is rampant here in Illinois.

We sold our IL house in 2019 and moved out of state. I’ve been hearing about all the unemployment fraud there and kind of worried what would happen if they used our names and old address- what would the new owners do w the mail? Probably toss it or return to sender. Ugh.  

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I have a sheaf of some5hing like 11 claims made fraudulently against our small business since the pandemic began, but the one that takes the cake was under *my* name and *my* ss#. I called and had it marked as fraudulent. However, just in the past few weeks, I got notice that unemployment has paid out over $400 under *my* name and *my* ss#. In this instance, calling was 100% useless and I could not get connected with anyone who could speak about the matter intelligently. So I had to dispute it through paper notification and have no idea whatsoever if the matter will be resolved. 

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I haven't been a victim of unemployment fraud, but I lost my full-time employment contract job with the US-DOE last winter (got notice on my birthday!) due to COVID and I couldn't figure out how to file for unemployment or if I was even eligible due to the fact that it was a temporary job with an out-of-state employer.  I can only imagine that for every person fraudulently collecting, there is someone like me who should have but didn't.

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My dh got an unemployment debit card last summer although he wasn't unemployed. He got them to flag his account. Yesterday, I got a call from my mom. She got a letter from unemployment saying that my dad's PUA with his unemployment will stop soon. The letter seems to be legitimately from unemployment, but my dad is 82 years old, has dementia, and hasn't worked in two decades. Mom took it to the police and they told her to call the unemployment office. She doesn't have a computer, so mom tried all day to call and got automation and then finally a guy who wasn't helpful at all. I ended up filling out a fraud form for them on the .gov site. I can't even imagine how much money has been lost in fraud this past year.

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My husband was a victim last year, but we were able to stop it in time before any money was paid out. It’s my understanding that different states use different methods for fighting fraud, some more successful than others. In my state, supposedly the first payment is a check sent to the home address. Then after that an unemployed individual can get a debit card or other payment type. So had we not reported the fraud when we received the initial letter, we likely would have then received the first check, not the fraudster. 
 

During normal times when offices aren’t flooded with claims and the week waiting period is in effect, it seems like very few fraudulent claims should get through if the employer is being contacted in a timely manner. Unless of course the employer is somehow in on the fraud. Of course nothing has been normal during the pandemic.

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This happened to me, with my correct name, address and SS#, but the unemployment letter was from a state three states east of me, in which I have never lived! I can't figure out why they sent something to my address from another state. I filled out all the fraud forms for that state and federal, and I am still getting frequent mail saying they are still working on my claim for unemployment.

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A close associate of mine received a 1099 for unemployment benefits that she never received nor requested.

It is a huge issue.  Really surprising how easy it is for people to to steal so much money.

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19 minutes ago, Laura Corin said:

Just curious  - in the UK you need a form from your previous employer to show that you were made redundant. The form will tie in with your previous National Insurance payments through that employment. What's the system there?

At least in my state, you just file a claim with the Employment Department. They are the ones who follow up with your previous employer. I don’t know how much of an issue unemployment fraud is during non pandemic times. During the pandemic, my state (maybe all?) dropped the one week waiting period for payments and also got way behind on processing claims due to the large number and people not previously eligible such as self employed being able to file claims and having to reprogram computer systems to deal with all of the changes including extra federal payments. So I think that often the previous employer had either not been contacted or was still within the timeframe to respond when claims were processed so as to get the money to the unemployed as quickly as possible. I think it’s a bit like when people complain about waiting so long to get their tax refund, but then being aghast at all of the $ paid out to fraudsters. There has to be a balance and I think that especially during the early part of the pandemic, many states focused on just getting claims processed as quickly as possible, knowing that some fraudulent claims would get through, at least temporarily.

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About complaining about tax refunds- I am one of those people.  Back in early May, our taxes were not due yet but our accountant said we should send z check of 1500 so wd wouldn't havr zny penalties.  Because I was in s horrible autoimmune flare, we couldn't get out return into our accountant until a few days before the 5/15 deadline. IRS received our return which isn't any different than the one the previous 5 years minus one dependent (dd2 is independiente now and doesn't live here) on June 2nd. 

We are owes $144 dollars.  I don't think they are doing sny frzud investigation on us.  I read that refunds are late because they have pulled people from processing return to sending out stimulus checks which we were never eligible for.  I just want my 144 before I have another lupus flare anc become s zombie again.   And I am one who keeps harping on   so-called whute<collae crimes prosecutions have drastically been falling in the last decade and the lessening 9f prosecutions was happening federally and in states.

My question is if no one calls, emails or mails us anything, is there sny way to check if someone filed using ouf name?  The one case of fraud tgst happens to me s long time ago, wad that someone stole my SS check, went to the cash xhexkinv pace anc split my first name into s name and middle initial and completrly misspelled my last name.l. 

 

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I am confused. How do people's unemployment claims get approved with the wrong/no Social Security number?

3 hours ago, Laura Corin said:

Just curious  - in the UK you need a form from your previous employer to show that you were made redundant. The form will tie in with your previous National Insurance payments through that employment. What's the system there?

There is a system if your employer didn't issue that form (I've lost my job several times, and only three times has the employer bothered to issue me with the legally-required P45) or you've lost it since, but unless the company stopped paying wages before you were formally unemployed, it takes up to 6 weeks longer due to the background research done. Also, I think it only works if it's a conventional employed job and you have used your correctly-issued Social Security Number equivalent (National Insurance number) due to reliance on tax office proof that you a) had a job and b) it ended with a demonstrable break in wages (official turnaround time is 2 weeks + company's standard wage interval, on top of the usual Universal Credit month of waiting for the first payment. At least everyone got exempted from the "waiting period" of 1 week...) I think the previous employer can be contacted (this also happens if there's doubt that the applicant was involuntarily unemployed), but tax office proof is required even if the previous employer confirms that this person was employed with them. On a couple of occasions, the JobCentre agent nodded when I told them this because the company was known not to issue anyone with P45s, but they have to follow due process in case this time was fraudulent.

That said, some of the checks that the UK (well, England - not sure if the check types are a devolved issue) does for Universal Credit (notably in-person proof of identity and address) couldn't be done in the early pandemic phase, which is believed to have led to a lot of fraud in a system where fraud is usually less than 0.5% of claims. Other benefits hit by similar problems include the scheme to help small businesses and self-employment stay afloat. Some of this led to innocent companies getting benefits they did not apply for due to finding the documentation too confusing; since monies were delivered to the business account registered with the tax office, fraudsters who did not plan enough submitted the documentation to get the benefit approved, but didn't see their ill-gotten gains because they went to the company they tried to scam and probably only hadn't got the money in the first place due to confusing documents.

Edited by ieta_cassiopeia
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It sounds to me (and I could obviously be wrong) that there are more unemployment *scams going on. Like, groups that run phone scams and *ahem* forum spamming.  
When I think of unemployment *fraud, I think of individuals gaming the system.  Of course scams/schemes are also fraud, but that’s not what’s implied when the media talks about increased fraud.

We haven’t had this come up for us, but we have been getting repeated notices in the mail for dh to sign papers for “his” bank account. At an online bank where only I have an account. Which, when calling their proper number, doesn’t have record of him having an account.  So that’s been fun.

I’ve also been getting charity requests for Karen (not Carrie) My Maiden Name.

And a friend in Louisiana had her credit card hacked when Ida knocked out power. She doesn’t believe that’s a coincidence.

There are some bad, but very organized, people out there taking advantage of current events.

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We were victims on unemployment fraud this year, too.

My husband was laid off during the pandemic and was receiving unemployment via direct deposit. We stopped receiving payments for no known reason & could not reach anybody at our state's unemployment bureau. They were completely swamped, had no voice mail, and the phone system simply hung up on him every time he called.

He finally got our state legislator to intervene, and it turned out that someone got into the system and changed his info from direct deposit to mailed debit card payments. They received our money for about a month before my husband switched it back.

He filed a fraud report (months ago) and never heard anything back....still can't get anyone to answer the phone. We will have to pay any taxes due on that missed income.

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8 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

About complaining about tax refunds- I am one of those people.  Back in early May, our taxes were not due yet but our accountant said we should send z check of 1500 so wd wouldn't havr zny penalties.  Because I was in s horrible autoimmune flare, we couldn't get out return into our accountant until a few days before the 5/15 deadline. IRS received our return which isn't any different than the one the previous 5 years minus one dependent (dd2 is independiente now and doesn't live here) on June 2nd. 

We are owes $144 dollars.  I don't think they are doing sny frzud investigation on us.  I read that refunds are late because they have pulled people from processing return to sending out stimulus checks which we were never eligible for.  I just want my 144 before I have another lupus flare anc become s zombie again.   And I am one who keeps harping on   so-called whute<collae crimes prosecutions have drastically been falling in the last decade and the lessening 9f prosecutions was happening federally and in states.

My question is if no one calls, emails or mails us anything, is there sny way to check if someone filed using ouf name?  The one case of fraud tgst happens to me s long time ago, wad that someone stole my SS check, went to the cash xhexkinv pace anc split my first name into s name and middle initial and completrly misspelled my last name.l. 

 

Are you talking about refund on federal income tax (rather than some unemployment tax refund)?  We are in a situation of being owed a large refund for 2020 which we haven't received.  The main reason we overpaid taxes in 2020 was, ironically, the government messed up DHs social security payments, which is a long story but was only resolved once he contacted our US Representative to straighten it out.  It is especailly annoying that we overpaid thousands of dollars because of a government error (to make sure WE didn't face a penalty because of the government error) but almost five months lafter filing our tax return says "processing".

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2 hours ago, Kathy in Richmond said:

We were victims on unemployment fraud this year, too.

My husband was laid off during the pandemic and was receiving unemployment via direct deposit. We stopped receiving payments for no known reason & could not reach anybody at our state's unemployment bureau. They were completely swamped, had no voice mail, and the phone system simply hung up on him every time he called.

He finally got our state legislator to intervene, and it turned out that someone got into the system and changed his info from direct deposit to mailed debit card payments. They received our money for about a month before my husband switched it back.

He filed a fraud report (months ago) and never heard anything back....still can't get anyone to answer the phone. We will have to pay any taxes due on that missed income.

You shouldn’t have to pay taxes on that missed income, although you will likely get a 1099 for it. You should also report the fraud at identity theft.gov, a federal site. The site produces fraud letters for you that you will be able to use for the IRS when the time comes. Hopefully eventually you will also be able to get through to your state unemployment office or go in person and get something in writing from them. 

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3 minutes ago, Frances said:

You shouldn’t have to pay taxes on that missed income, although you will likely get a 1099 for it. You should also report the fraud at identity theft.gov, a federal site. The site produces fraud letters for you that you will be able to use for the IRS when the time comes. Hopefully eventually you will also be able to get through to your state unemployment office or go in person and get something in writing from them. 

Thanks, we will try this!

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23 hours ago, Amy in NH said:

I haven't been a victim of unemployment fraud, but I lost my full-time employment contract job with the US-DOE last winter (got notice on my birthday!) due to COVID and I couldn't figure out how to file for unemployment or if I was even eligible due to the fact that it was a temporary job with an out-of-state employer.  I can only imagine that for every person fraudulently collecting, there is someone like me who should have but didn't.

You may try to call your local unemployment office to see if they can help you. I had two jobs and couldn't work at one of them due to dd's school closure. At first everything going around said I wasn't eligible, but later things were revised. I just got paid today, on a claim I started in June 2020. It took forever for them to sort it all out. It is really hard to get a live person at our UI office, and if you can get through to the 'on-hold' section of the phone tree, the wait is often an hour to talk to someone. That being said, even with the time off from work to make these calls during business hours, I definitely felt the amount of back payments I received was worth it. 

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This was a big problem in Ohio, and may still be. They had an online form for notifying the state as well as a hotline, because there was so much fraud--over $200K if I recall correctly. 

My husband received a postcard regarding a password for unemployment access which clued me in that something was amiss. I think the scammers got his info from one of the many data breaches (Equifax maybe?). Anyway, we had to file a bunch of stuff with unemployment, the feds, and then put an extended fraud alert on his credit.  Later the same year someone tried to apply for a Discover card in his name. This was after the fraud alert was placed.  It's so frustrating. 

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I’d expect fraud to be crazy right now with everything going on.  The systems have been overwhelmed during the pandemic and they had to prioritize speed over accuracy at some point. The rules for who qualifies and who doesn’t were temporarily changed during the pandemic too.  Add in hastily hired and trained personnel and you have a perfect storm for fraud.  I would guess there will be investigations and such once things settle down.  

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The scale of the fraud is absolutely mind blowing.   Billions and billions of dollars  I know my state was given federal funds to redo their computer system 10 years ago and it was never done.  It very sad because people who genuinely needed relief weren’t getting it and but people committing fraud were getting so much.

https://www.npr.org/transcripts/976583954
 

 

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