What Is It, What are the Risks?
Millions of Americans are actively filing for unemployment, many suddenly “displaced” from jobs. But the truth is that for most it’s a mini-disaster. Job lay-off could be completely unexpected, unplanned.
For most laid-off workers, unemployment insurance benefits are critical to their survival and the continued survival of their families. Unfortunately a few can spoil a good thing. If you file for unemployment benefits and attempt to collect income that in any way misleads the government, you could be guilty of unemployment fraud.
Simply put unemployment insurance fraud is a crime in every state and punishable with fines and even imprisonment.
Unemployment Fraud In Your State
Every state is different. Find out how your state handles unemployment fraud:
How To Report Unemployment Fraud
Click this link to find out how to report unemployment fraud:
What Constitutes Unemployment Insurance Fraud?
Here are a few of the most common ways in which you are held legally responsible for your unemployment benefits:
Personal Information – When you file an unemployment benefits claim your application is a legal document. You are expected by law to provide your name, social security number, current address, current and correct phone number and current and correct employment information. Any intentional misrepresentation of who you are, and your employment situation is considered fraudulent. It is a crime to provide intentionally wrong information about yourself or someone else when filing an unemployment insurance claim.
You cannot just use anyone else’s personal information to collect unemployment—this is identity theft. That means you cannot “borrow” your cousin Al’s personal information to collect money for yourself.
Looking for Work – Unless you’re on a temporary lay-off, or remain job-attached, or a union worker, you are required to actively seek work and be physically and mentally able to work as a condition of unemployment collection. You are required to attest to that fact each time you file a weekly payment claim. If, in fact, you do not look for work, lie about looking for work, or lie about being able to work…guess what? You’re committing a crime.
Reporting Income – Besides being able and looking for work, you must also disclose any extra income you earned in any given week. If you earn income from a new part-time job, or do some freelance consulting, you are required by law to disclose these wages. How does the state use this information? Any additional income you earn from part-time or freelance work is figured into your benefits claim. You earn partial benefits when you work part-time. Failure to report additional income while you are receiving state unemployment pay is a crime.
Unemployment Fraud by Employers
Employers that provide intentionally misleading employment information on any of their employees or about the wages earned also commits fraud.
Always provide the most accurate information you can when filing for your unemployment benefits.