Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unemployment Compensation Claim Fraud on the Rise

Earlier today a session in the Legislative Council study committee on fraud in public benefit programs revealed that fraud in unemployment compensation claims is likely to rise this year for the third consecutive year in a row as claims themselves rise. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on the issue:
Fraud in Wisconsin's unemployment insurance program between 2007 and 2009 more than tripled to $17.7 million, according to state figures. That figure will likely grow in 2010 as more jobless workers file for benefits amid continued high unemployment, increasing the opportunities for fraud, Bergan said. ...

Members of the committee such as Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) talked about the need to devote more state resources and effort to detecting fraud. They also discussed the possibility of empowering a state agency such as the Department of Justice to help prosecute some cases of benefits fraud that overworked district attorneys are currently unable to handle.
I have seen an increase in the number of telephone calls to my office of people being accused of fraudulently misreporting their unemployment claims and are distressed at the Unemployment Insurance Division's demand of repayment of large sums of money and the potential of criminal charges brought forth. I always advise people before they considering filing to ensure they are eligible because receiving benefits does not always mean you are eligible as the Department sometimes makes errors or the employer appeals demanding a hearing where an administrative law judge can overturn the investigator's decision which would result in repayment.

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