UI Fraud - General Information
UI fraud occurs when a person makes a false statement or withholds or misrepresents information in order to receive or increase Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
What happens to claimants who commit UI Fraud?
All unemployment benefits paid during the week(s) in which fraudulent information was submitted must be re-paid, along with a penalty equal to 50% of the overpayment. Additionally, the individual will be disqualified from receiving future benefits. The period of disqualification is at least six weeks for each week affected by the false statements, up to a maximum of 52 weeks.
Depending on the amount of the fraudulent overpayment the case may be referred to the District Attorney or US Attorney for criminal prosecution. At this level penalties could include imprisonment and fines in addition to the administrative penalties and disqualification described above.
How prevalent is UI fraud in Alaska?
Every year a portion of claimants commit fraud in order to receive UI benefits to which they are not entitled. In 2005, approximately 3% of the claimants who filed for benefits were denied for making fraudulent statements. The fraud unit detected overpayments totaling $3.1million dollars. Penalties of $1.5 million dollars were added to the overpayments as required by law.
How is UI fraud detected?
We have literally dozens of ways to identify claimants who commit UI fraud. Most of our detection methods rely upon automated computer programs such as the quarterly crossmatch of wage information submitted by Alaska and out of state employers with the wage information provided by claimants filing for benefits. Other information sources for potential UI fraud cases are:
- New hire reports from employers
- Public tips by telephone, mail or internet
- Quality Control Audits
- Claim Center Referrals
- Cross-matches with other government records (i.e. Dept of Corrections or Worker’s Compensation)
- Other investigative efforts
New strategies are being developed every day to identify claimants who may be receiving unemployment benefits under fraudulent circumstances.
What’s the big deal? The UI benefits I collect is my money anyway, I paid into it.
This is a common misconception by most claimants. Actually the money used to pay Unemployment Insurance benefits is paid from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The UI Trust fund is comprised mostly of employer tax dollars. As employees, the maximum amount of money you pay into the fund annually is approximately $230.00. So, fraudulently collecting UI benefits is essentially the same as stealing from Alaska employers and other Alaska employees.