One woman suggested that a power surge caused her computer to answer questions incorrectly on her unemployment insurance reports. Another claimant suggested he lost his job due to drug use and that drug use was responsible for the errors the
Yet another man simply said he forgot he even had a job. And since he didn't remember his job, he thought the next logical step was to file for unemployment.
While these examples may seem silly on the surface, the
"We actively look for and we do a pretty good job of discovering instances of unemployment insurance fraud," said
Employers have been known to take unemployment fraud seriously, even terminating the employees, who are denied unemployment benefits for at least 52 weeks as a result of committing unemployment fraud.
"Too often, I think people need the money and think they will just pay us back," said
That's why McKenna emphasizes that unemployment fraud is a significant issue -- and the issues surrounding it are commonly misunderstood.
"We often hear people say they are entitled to unemployment benefits because they pay into it," McKenna said. "But unemployment insurance tax is actually paid by employers and the taxes are not deducted from paychecks."
Meanwhile, the department continues use its resources to uncover fraud.
"There's always plenty of work to do," Ingram said. "Are we getting better with our data-mining activities? Yes, we are."
Employers can play a key role in helping to reduce fraud, by notifying the
"Our computer runs a cross-match against people who are claiming benefits," Souza said. "It's pretty hard not to get caught."
At the same time, she said fraud is easy to prevent, and honesty is the best policy for people filing for unemployment insurance.
"From the time someone opens a claim to each week they file, they receive warnings and are asked very specific, simple and straightforward questions."
McKenna agreed: "The best thing someone can do if they don't know the answer or how to report correctly is to ask."
A claim specialist can be reached at 208-332-8942, by using a Click to Chat feature or by emailing. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions can be found at labor.idaho.gov/uifaqs.
To learn more about preventing or avoiding unemployment insurance fraud, visit: labor.idaho.gov/dnn/idl/UnemploymentInsurance/UnemploymentBenefits/Fraud.aspx.
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