Employers should be on the lookout for unemployment benefit claims that were fraudulently filed.
Claims may be in the names of existing employees, former employees, and sometimes those who never even worked for the employer. These claim forms often include frequent errors, including a misspelled name, incorrect social security numbers, and even using maiden names.
HR Services and TASB Risk Management Fund Unemployment Compensation Program members are reporting a receipt of claim forms for existing employees, and upon checking with the employee they find that employee didn’t file a claim or have any knowledge that one had been filed. This practice is rampant and has serious consequences for employers and employees. If not caught, employers could be billed for fraudulent claims where dollars went straight into thieves’ pockets while unknowing victims could be stuck with overpayments they owe back for money they never received.
Obtaining unemployment insurance benefits by misrepresentation is a reportable violation of the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act (TUCA). Individuals and entities should take these claims seriously and report allegations of fraud, waste, and program abuse to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) for investigation.
Reports of alleged fraud can be reported 24 hours day, seven days a week to the TWC Fraud and Abuse Hotline (800-252-3642). Information submitted on the Hotline must be as specific as possible. However, the Hotline permits reporting of matters anonymously, if desired.
Identify theft concerns
Fraudulent claims may involve identity theft and employees should be made aware of this possibility so they can take steps to protect personal accounts and credit reporting information. TWC recommends victims of identity theft take the following actions:
- Contact the police department in the city in which you reside and get an incident report and number.
- Consult the Federal Trade Commission website (checklist of further actions is available on this site).
- Contact one of the major three credit reporting agencies, and:
- Ask that a free fraud alert be placed on your credit report.
- Ask for a free credit report. You only need to contact one of the three agencies because the law requires the agency to call to contact the other two.
- If needed, ask to have your credit account frozen.
- If bank or credit union account was compromised, contact the fraud department of each institution. Report the identity theft and, if needed, ask them to close or freeze the compromised account.
If TWC establishes that an individual is an identity theft victim in relation to a unemployment insurance (UI) claim, the individual can obtain identity verification documents by visiting the UI Fraud Submission portal (English) or UI Fraud Submission portal (Spanish) .
Additional information on the types of fraudulent activity that may occur is described in an August 14, 2020, TWC news release. Information on how and where to report fraud is also available on the TWC website.
April Mabry is an assistant director at TASB HR Services. James Ezell is an attorney with TASB Risk Management Fund Unemployment Compensation Program. Send April an email at email@example.com. Send James an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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