Hawaii Unemployment Fraud
Committing fraud and abuse related to the Hawaii unemployment insurance benefits program is considered a criminal offense. The Hawaii Unemployment Insurance Division keeps a close eye out for fraudulent activity in an attempt to ensure the system is fair, and to keep business UI taxes to a minimum.
When filing certified claims, it is important to report all information accurately and truthfully. Failure to do so could result in penalties and a denial of benefits.
How to report Hawaii unemployment insurance fraud
If you have reason to believe that someone is unlawfully receiving unemployment benefits, the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations requests that you contact (833) 901-2275 or (808) 762-5752. You will be required to provide details about the person or company involved in the fraudulent activity, as well as a description of the fraudulent activities.
What constitutes unemployment fraud?
Activities that are considered fraudulent include providing false information, making false statements, or withholding information in order to obtain benefits that one is not qualified to receive.
Examples of fraudulent activities related to UI benefits include:
- Receiving UI benefits while working and receiving cash payments “under the table” without reporting it.
- Failing to report earnings while receiving UI benefits.
- Receiving UI benefits but being unable or unavailable to seek or accept employment due to illness, injury, being out of town, being on vacation, etc.
- Falsifying or withholding information regarding work search requirements while receiving UI benefits.
- Providing inaccurate or incomplete information regarding the reason for job separation.
- Filing a fraudulent UI claim or receiving UI benefits using another person’s identity, such as their name or Social Security number.
- Refusing a job offer for suitable work or failing to report to work after accepting a job offer while receiving UI benefits.
- Receiving UI benefits while being incarcerated.
Penalties for committing UI fraud in Hawaii
If you receive unemployment benefits as the result of fraudulent information or activity, you may be subject to the following penalties:
- Repayment of the collected UI benefits, along with additional penalties
- Possible prosecution
- Potential imprisonment or jail sentences
- Wage garnishment
- Forfeiture of future income tax refunds
- Loss of eligibility to receive future UI benefits
- Property liens may also be filed
Can an initial claim be edited after submission?
Regrettably, it is not possible to modify the initial claim for benefits once it has been submitted. This is why it is of the utmost importance to review all information before submitting.
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is created when you receive unemployment compensation that you are not entitled to. When this happens, you will receive a Notice of Overpayment of Benefits letter. This letter specifies the overpayment amount and specific weeks in which the overpayment occurred.
Can I get my overpayment waived?
Occasionally, overpayments may be pardoned, provided there is no fraudulent activity and the claimant is not at fault for the mistake. Each case is evaluated separately during the adjudication process.
What happens if I don’t repay the overpayment?
When a claimant fails to pay or get in touch with the Special Activities Unit for a payment plan within 30 days of the overpayment notice’s mailing date, it becomes delinquent. In such cases, the unit sends them a reminder letter that includes the overpayment amount and payment guidelines.
To obtain another Notice of Overpayment of Benefits, claimants must call the call center. If you wish to make a payment or establish a payment plan, you may email their request to [email protected].
How does Hawaii detect unemployment fraud?
The Hawaii Unemployment Insurance Division employs various methods to monitor unemployment fraud, including analyzing new hire reports across the country to ensure the accurate and proper payment of UI benefits.
Employers are obligated to submit new hire information to state and national agencies, which are then matched against benefit payment records to detect any unreported employment. Additionally, employers are contacted to verify reasons for worker job separation.
By law, all Hawaii employers must report their employees’ names, Social Security numbers, and earnings to the Unemployment Insurance Division, which uses this wage data to determine if any benefits were claimed while the individual was working or earning wages in other states.
The UI Division also confirms that telephone numbers and internet IP addresses used for remote unemployment insurance claims are associated with the assigned area.
These measures enable the detection of any unreported employment.
Unemployment identity theft
In recent years, many states have witnessed a surge in fraudulent claims filed by organized crime syndicates that use stolen identities acquired or purchased from data breaches. These breaches are generally part of more extensive criminal activities that are unrelated to unemployment.
Unfortunately, most individuals who fall victim to unemployment identity theft are unaware that claims have been filed or that benefits have been unlawfully collected in their name.
You may be a victim of unemployment identity theft if you have received any of the following:
- Government correspondence regarding unemployment claims or payments when you did not apply for unemployment benefits recently. This may include unexpected debit cards or payments from any state.
- A 1099-G tax form reflecting unemployment benefits that you were not expecting. Box 1 on the form may display an amount of unemployment benefits that you did not receive or an amount that exceeds the amount of benefits you did receive. The form may originate from a state in which you do not reside or did not file for benefits.
- Your employer receives a notice stating that someone has requested information about an unemployment claim in your name while you are still working.
If you suspect you are a victim of unemployment fraud, call the unemployment office immediately. The sooner you report it, the sooner it can be resolved.
Unemployment identity theft scams to be aware of
Text and email phishing
A new phishing scheme has been identified that targets individuals through fraudulent text messages. The scam notifies the recipient that their UI Unemployment Account has been restricted, and directs them to click on a link to “verify” their account. They may also send a message asking you to “fix an error” with your claim. Clicking on this link could allow the scammers to access your personal information. If you have clicked on one of these links and provided your personal information, it’s possible your data was compromised. Please report such instances by contacting the UI Call Center.
Money mule scams are also being used by fraudsters to steal unemployment insurance money. Money mules are people who are approached to receive funds in their bank account and then transfer those funds through wire transfer, mail, or other payment services. It is advised that individuals protect themselves by avoiding the sending or receiving of money on behalf of businesses or individuals for which they are not accountable. Moreover, individuals should exercise caution while viewing online job postings or messages that promise easy money for little effort.