New Mexico Unemployment Fraud
The New Mexico unemployment insurance program takes fraud very seriously, and it is considered a significant offense in the state. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) actively investigates fraudulent claims and has a dedicated fraud investigations unit. The state has established strict penalties for those who engage in unemployment fraud, including fines, restitution, and imprisonment.
Unemployment fraud not only drains funds from the government, but it also impacts legitimate claimants who may experience delayed or reduced benefits as a result of increased scrutiny and processing times to verify claims. It is considered a serious crime and can result in legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and restitution.
How to report New Mexico unemployment insurance fraud
If you suspect unemployment fraud in New Mexico, you can report it using the online form provided by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
The form asks for basic information about the suspected fraudulent activity and the person or persons involved. You can provide your contact information if you wish to receive updates on the investigation, or you can choose to remain anonymous.
Reporting unemployment fraud is important for ensuring that only eligible individuals receive UI benefits, and it helps to protect the integrity of the system for everyone.
What constitutes unemployment fraud?
Unemployment fraud involves making false claims for benefits you are not entitled to receive. This can include everything from submitting false information about your employment status, earnings, or work history to qualify for benefits to using stolen identities to file claims on behalf of other people.
Examples of unemployment fraud include:
- Continuing to collect New Mexico unemployment benefits after returning to work
- Working a part-time job and not reporting how much money you are making
- Lying or withholding information to increase your weekly benefit amount
- Claiming unemployment insurance benefits in someone else’s name
- Pretending to meet the work search requirements when you’re not
- Filing for benefits when you are unable or unavailable for work
Penalties for committing UI fraud in New Mexico
Unemployment fraud is a serious crime that can have significant consequences. In New Mexico, the Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) is responsible for investigating and prosecuting unemployment fraud cases.
Penalties may vary depending on the severity of the offense, the amount of money involved, and whether the fraud was committed intentionally. Examples include:
- Criminal prosecution
- Jail or prison sentences
- Repayment of benefits with fines and penalties
- Loss of future New Mexico unemployment benefits
In order to collect the repayment of benefits, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions can:
- Place liens on your property
- Garnish wages
- Collect future income tax refunds
What happens if I accidentally submit an incorrect claim?
It is very important to give accurate and complete information when submitting an initial application or weekly claim for unemployment insurance benefits. If you make a mistake in your unemployment claim, it is your responsibility to get in touch with the New Mexico UI operations call center right away to fix it. This helps ensure that you receive the right weekly benefit amount and prevents any issues down the line.
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment occurs when you receive more money than you were supposed to. A few common reasons for overpayments include:
- Not reporting all earnings correctly
- Continuing to receive benefits after returning to work
- Receiving back pay or retroactive pay
- Receiving UI benefits and then being disqualified for eligibility issues
If it is determined that an overpayment occurred, you will receive an Initial Notice and Determination letter. This will outline how much you owe, how to repay the benefits, and your appeals rights if you believe the overpayment was made in error.
Can I get my overpayment waived?
If you receive an overpayment notice and believe that the overpayment was made through no fault of your own, you have the right to file an appeal and ask for a waiver.
You typically can’t ask for a waiver without going through the appeals process. To get a waiver approved, you have to win your appeal and demonstrate that repaying the overpayment would present significant financial hardship.
What happens if I don’t repay the overpayment?
If you don’t pay back the overpayment and don’t appeal it, the New Mexico government can confiscate your federal income tax return, garnish your wages, or put a lien on your property until it’s paid back in full.
If you tried to appeal the overpayment and were unsuccessful, you can reach out to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to set up a payment plan and pay it back over time, provided the overpayment did not occur as a result of fraud.
How does New Mexico detect unemployment fraud?
New Mexico uses several methods to detect unemployment fraud, including:
- Data Analytics: The state uses sophisticated data analytics tools to identify patterns and anomalies in unemployment insurance claims data. This helps them detect fraudulent activities, such as multiple claims made from the same IP address or bank account.
- Cross-Matching Data: The state cross-matches data from various government agencies to verify claimant information, such as employment history, income, and eligibility. This helps detect fraudulent claims made using false or misleading information.
- Tips and Complaints: The state receives tips and complaints from employers, coworkers, and the public about individuals who may be committing unemployment fraud. These are investigated to determine if there is any merit to the allegations.
- Audits: The state conducts periodic audits of unemployment insurance claims to verify eligibility and detect any fraudulent activities. This involves reviewing claimant information, interviewing witnesses, and verifying employer information.
Unemployment Identity Theft
Unemployment identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personal information to file for unemployment benefits. In New Mexico, this has become a growing concern, with scammers using stolen identities to make fraudulent claims for benefits.
This type of identity theft can be devastating for victims, who may only discover it when they receive a notice about unemployment benefits they never applied for.
There are a few signs that you may be a victim of unemployment identity theft. One is if you receive a notice from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions stating that you have applied for UI benefits, but you have not. Another sign is if you receive a debit card or unemployment insurance paperwork in the mail, despite not applying for benefits.
If you suspect that you are a victim of unemployment identity theft, it is important to act quickly. You can report the fraud to the department by submitting a fraud report online.
To protect yourself from unemployment identity theft, you need to take steps to safeguard your information. This includes not sharing personal information, such as your Social Security number, with anyone unless absolutely necessary. It is also important to monitor financial accounts regularly for any unusual activity and to check credit reports regularly for any unfamiliar accounts or credit inquiries.
Additionally, you need to be cautious of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages asking for personal information, and should only provide such information to trusted sources.
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions primarily communicates with unemployment claimants through the Unemployment Insurance and Tax Claims System (jobs.state.nm.us) or U.S. mail, but if you receive a suspicious email, text, or phone call about your unemployment benefits, it’s a good idea to call the UI operations center directly to confirm.