Unemployment insurance fraud has wide reaching impacts on many parties, from the government to private companies and law-abiding workers. This crime is referred to as UI (unemployment insurance) fraud in the U.S. It involves the fraudulent collection of unemployment benefits by workers who already have a job or don't qualify for them.
Federal and state regulators encourage citizens to report EI fraud. This measure aims to reduce waste in the employment insurance system and strengthen the economy. Those who apply for EI benefits or file a claim are legally responsible for ensuring they follow the requirements set by the U.S. Failing to do so can result in heavy fines and jail time.
What Is EI Fraud?
Unemployment insurance fraud takes place when an individual provides false, misleading or unreported information to the state's Department of Employment Services. This may include collecting benefits based on false or inaccurate information, not reporting earnings from a former employer or applying for unemployment benefits despite receiving workers compensation.
Both employers and employees may commit EI fraud. For example, if you help someone file a fraudulent claim, you're guilty of fraud. The same goes for employers who persuade or induce an employee to file false claims. Not reporting the wage earned by a worker is considered a crime too. Other examples of EI fraud may include:
- Using another person's identity to collect benefits.
- Failing to report cash wages earned.
- Not reporting the hours worked.
- Claiming to be looking for work when you are not.
- Misclassifying a worker and his responsibilities on the job.
- Misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
- Paying workers under the table.
- Under-reporting a worker's wages.
As a U.S. citizen, it's your responsibility to report EI fraud. Unemployment insurance plans have the role to protect workers in case they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. They are not meant to provide a steady income to those who already have a job or a side business that brings them revenue.
Employers who commit an EI fraud may lose their eligibility to collect benefits in the future. They may also need to repay the EI benefits collected plus penalties. Additionally, they will face prosecution by government authorities.
In South Carolina, for instance, those who are found guilty of EI fraud may receive fines up to $100,000 and spend up to 10 years in jail. Furthermore, they are not allowed to receive benefits for up to 52 weeks.
Call an EI Reporting Number
If you suspect that someone is guilty of this crime, contact your state's Department of Employment Services. Go online and search for an EI reporting phone number in the state where you reside.
For example, if you live in Washington, you can report EI fraud by calling 866-266-1987. Another option is to send a fax or fill out an electronic reporting form.
Those who reside in Montana can call 406-444-1709 to make an EI telephone report or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may remain anonymous if you don’t wish to disclose your name. Fraud can also be reported online by filling out a form on the official state's website.
Georgia residents can report EI fraud at 404-232-3440, print and fax or mail the appropriate document to a local unit or fill out the UI Suspected Fraud and Abuse Reporting Form, which is available online. The EI reporting number for Illinois residents is 800-814-0513. An online contact form is available on the state's website as well.
As you see, there are various ways to report EI fraud. Depending on your preference, you may disclose your identity or remain anonymous. If you choose to provide your name, you may have to make this information available to the involved parties in case there is legal action taken against the fraud.
- Empty Office Cubical image by TekinT from Fotolia.com