augusta free press news

Department of Labor launches website for victims of unemployment insurance fraud

business
(© Gajus – stock.adobe.com)

The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a new website at www.dol.gov/fraud, and www.dol.gov/fraud/es in Spanish, to help individuals whose identities have been stolen and used fraudulently to file for unemployment.

“Unemployment insurance fraud is a national issue that every state is struggling with and Virginia is not immune,” Virginia Employment Commission Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess said. “Fraud takes many forms, including identity theft, filing under false pretenses and on a larger scale, organized fraud conducted by malicious actors from across the globe,” Hess added.

As a result of the pandemic and historic levels of unemployment, speed and flexibility were built into federal programs with the intent to get money into the hands of those in need quickly. However, self-certification and the lifting of other traditional requirements also left these programs vulnerable.

Fraud victims are often unaware they’ve been targeted. They have no idea that criminals have filed claims or collected benefits, illegally, in their names. According to DOL, many individuals learn their identities have been stolen when they received unexpected mail, such as a payment, or a 1099-G tax form with errors or for benefits they didn’t get.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the VEC has paid approximately $12 billion in unemployment claims and recognizes that even a small percentage of fraud is a significant dollar amount.

“We work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement officials to identify and pursue suspected cases of fraud in Virginia,” said Hess.

Nationally, in an effort to prevent ongoing fraud, new provisions requiring additional evidence to substantiate individual claims have been made to unemployment insurance programs, including the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

The VEC participates in a multi-state unemployment insurance data trust to compare filing activity and help identify fraudulent claims, and is working with state and federal agencies in combating Unemployment Insurance fraud.

Virginians who suspect they may be victims of unemployment fraud need to report the fraudulent activity on the VEC’s homepage through a secure fillable form www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed/fraud.

Customer service agents are available to assist customers in completing the form by calling 1-800-782-4001.


augusta free press
augusta free press