Arizona Unemployment Fraud
The Arizona Department of Economic Security takes unemployment insurance fraud very seriously. Committing unemployment insurance fraud is a serious offense, and those found guilty can face severe consequences, including fines, loss of benefits, and criminal prosecution.
How to report Arizona unemployment insurance fraud
If you suspect that someone has committed unemployment insurance fraud in Arizona, you can file a report online or by phone.
To file online, visit fraudreferralexternal.azdes.gov. Fill out the form with the required information, including your contact information and details about the suspected fraud.
You can also file a report by calling the fraud hotline at (800) 251-2436 or (602) 542-9449. Be prepared to provide the same information as you would in the online form.
Arizona will thoroughly investigate all reports of fraud. If you report suspected fraud, you can help ensure that those who need unemployment benefits receive them, and that those who abuse the system are held accountable.
What constitutes unemployment fraud?
Unemployment benefit fraud in Arizona can take various forms. Here are some examples:
- Falsifying information: An individual may provide false information on their application for unemployment benefits, such as not reporting income earned from a job or misrepresenting their eligibility for benefits.
- Identity theft: Scammers can steal personal information and use it to file a fraudulent unemployment claim under someone else’s name.
- Continuing to receive benefits while employed: This happens when an individual gets a job, but lies in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits.
- Colluding with employers: An employer may collude with an employee to falsely report layoffs, enabling the employee to receive benefits while still working.
Penalties for committing UI fraud in Arizona
Unemployment fraud in Arizona is a serious offense that can result in both criminal and civil penalties. If you are found guilty of committing unemployment fraud in Arizona, the consequences can include:
- Criminal Charges: Unemployment fraud is a crime in Arizona, and if you are caught committing this offense, you may face criminal charges. Depending on the severity of the crime, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Fines: If you are found guilty of unemployment fraud in Arizona, you may be required to pay fines. The amount of the fines will depend on the severity of the fraud and the amount of money that was fraudulently obtained, but the state reserves the right to fine up to $150,000 for each overpaid benefit week.
- Repayment: If you were paid benefits based on a fraudulent claim, you will be required to repay all the funds you received, in addition to possible fines and penalties.
- Jail Time: If you are found guilty of unemployment fraud in Arizona, you may face jail time. The length of the sentence will depend on the severity of the crime, the amount of money involved, and your previous criminal history. Unemployment fraud is punishable by up to two years in prison.
- Loss of Benefits: If you are found guilty of unemployment fraud in Arizona, you may lose your eligibility for unemployment benefits for up to 52 weeks.
How does Arizona detect unemployment insurance fraud?
If you’re receiving Arizona unemployment insurance benefits, someone from the Arizona Department of Economic Security will check your claim every three months to make sure everything is accurate. Employers will also report if you’ve started working again, or if you’ve been hired somewhere new.
The department also cross-matches information for identity verification purposes and works closely with the U.S. Department of Labor to share and identify patterns of fraudulent activity across the country.
What is an overpayment?
If you receive unemployment insurance benefits that you are not entitled to, it’s called an overpayment. Sometimes, it’s determined that the overpayment is your fault, such as when you provide false information, and other times, it’s the result of actions beyond your control, such as administrative error. It may help to estimate your payments using the Arizona unemployment calculator so you know what to expect.
How do I appeal an overpayment?
If you disagree that you received an overpayment, you can file an appeal within 15 days of receiving your Determination of Overpayment letter.
Can I get my overpayment waived?
If you receive a notice called a “Determination of Overpayment,” and it says you don’t have to pay back the benefits you received, you don’t need to do anything else. The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) reviewed your overpayment and decided that you didn’t do anything wrong, and it wouldn’t be fair to make you pay back the benefits you received. This is called a Waiver of Repayment.
You’ll need to provide your claimant ID, which you can find on the Determination of Overpayment notice. You’ll also need to explain why you think you shouldn’t have to pay back the overpayment, and provide your mailing address and phone number.
Can I set up a payment plan to repay an overpayment?
Yes. To set up a payment plan, you will need to call the DES Office of Accounts Receivable and Collections.
Unemployment Insurance Scams
Fraudsters try to steal personal information and use it to file for unemployment insurance benefits that they are not entitled to. This is happening all over the country, including in Arizona. These scammers use tricks like sending fake emails or stealing information from big companies that have been hacked. They then use this information to apply for UI benefits under the victim’s name.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security hasn’t had a security breach, but you still need to be careful. Do not give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know, especially if they’re asking for it online or over the phone. If you think someone might have stolen your information, you should let the Department of Economic Security know right away so they can help.
You should be aware of a new phishing scam involving text messages. Some people may receive a message that appears to be from a state workforce agency, but it is actually from a scammer. The message may ask you to click on a link and provide private information. It is important to know that the Arizona Department of Economic Security will never ask for sensitive information through text messages.
What to do if you suspect you are a UI fraud victim
If you receive a notice that you’ve been approved for unemployment benefits, but you never applied for them, you may be a victim of identity theft. Someone might be trying to file for benefits fraudulently under your name.
If you think this has happened to you, you can report it to the Arizona Department of Economic Security through their online fraud report application. You’ll need to include your Social Security number, full name, and the mailing address where you received the documents. Be sure to destroy any cards you get in the mail that you didn’t ask for.
You should also report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF). They can help you protect yourself from any further damage.