Ohio Unemployment Fraud
What is Ohio Unemployment fraud?
Unemployment fraud happens when a claimant for Ohio unemployment insurance benefits either withholds information or knowingly provides false information as part of either an initial Ohio unemployment application or a weekly claim for benefits. In the most egregious cases of unemployment fraud, claimants may knowingly use the identity of someone else to apply for and receive benefits. This is known as identity theft. It’s important to understand – and to avoid – actions that constitute unemployment fraud.
Unemployment insurance fraud is punishable by law, and those who engage in it potentially face a number of serious penalties. Anyone who accepts unemployment benefits in Ohio is legally responsible for ensuring that all information reported to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services is complete and accurate.
Examples of Ohio Unemployment fraud
The most common source of unemployment fraud is a worker returning to work while failing to report the employment to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, and also continuing to collect unemployment benefits. Other instances of unemployment fraud occur when claimants provide incomplete or inaccurate information when they file a weekly claim. For example, a claimant may pick up part-time work that they don’t report in their weekly certification. Since this failure to report means that the benefit amount was not reduced by the amount of part-time earnings, the claimant has now received an overpayment.
If you are claiming Ohio unemployment benefits and report that you are actively seeking work, but you’re really not, this also is considered unemployment fraud. A claimant who isn’t available and able to work while collecting unemployment benefits also is committing unemployment fraud. This can happen if a claimant is out of town, on vacation, or otherwise unable to start work if and when it is offered.
The most egregious form of unemployment fraud is identity theft – when a claimant uses someone else’s personal information to collect unemployment benefits illegally.
How to pay back overpayments
You will be notified if you receive a full or partial benefits payment that is more than you should have received. Or, you may discover an overpayment on your own. In the event of an overpayment, you must pay it back and return the money. Repayments can be submitted online by bank draft or credit card.
You may also submit your repayment by mail. If you choose to mail the payment, you can send a check or money order payable to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The mailing address is:
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations
Attn: Finance Section
P.O. Box 182059
Columbus, Ohio 43218
To make sure your account is properly credited, include the last four digits of your Social Security number on your check or money order. Any overpayments not paid back within 66 days may be sent to the Ohio Attorney General’s office for collection. If you receive an overpayment notice, but you believe that you were not overpaid, or that the amount of the overpayment is incorrect, you may file an appeal within 21 days of the date the overpayment notice was issued.
Penalties for Ohio claimants committing fraud
Penalties for Ohio unemployment fraud are severe. Penalties for fraud include repayment of all erroneously collected benefits, withholding any unpaid amount from future benefits, and being found ineligible for two weeks of future unemployment benefits for every fraudulent misrepresentation.
In addition to these repayments and penalties, claimants found guilty of committing unemployment fraud in Ohio must pay a one-time penalty equal to 25% of the amount of fraudulent benefits they collected. These penalties apply to unemployment fraud committed both within the initial unemployment claim and in any subsequent weekly certification claims.
Ohio’s Benefit Payment Control group is one of the most active in the country when it comes to investigating unemployment fraud, so it’s important to only provide true and accurate information related to your unemployment benefits claim. In cases of especially flagrant unemployment fraud, criminal penalties may include jail time and/or probation.
Identity theft is a serious crime that involves using someone else’s sensitive and personal information to gain some sort of benefit. This can involve opening bank accounts or credit card accounts, filing fraudulent tax returns – or filing a fraudulent claim for unemployment insurance benefits. If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft, report it immediately.
How to report fraud
If you suspect someone of unemployment fraud, it’s important to make a report as quickly as possible. You may do so by calling Ohio’s toll-free reporting hotline at 800-686-1555 and choosing Option 1. You also may fax the information to 614-752-4808, or use the state of Ohio’s fraud reporting form online.
Identity Theft reporting form: https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/IdentityTheft/
Further contact information for reporting unemployment fraud is below:
Benefit Payment Control
P.O. Box 1618
Columbus, OH 43216-1618
Once you’ve reported a case of suspected fraud, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will process your reports, conduct an investigation and issue a correction to the Internal Revenue Service on the 1099 form issued to you, should that become necessary.
How to protect your personal information
There’s quite a bit you can do to keep your personal information safe from those who would use it to establish their own Ohio unemployment eligibility. First, it’s important to beware of unemployment benefit scams. It’s not uncommon for cyber-criminals to send a link to a fake website, one that closely resembles an official state of Ohio website, via email or text message, in an attempt to trick you into logging in so they can steal your information.
Don’t click on any links from senders that identify themselves as part of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Instead, navigate directly to your online account and make sure to check it frequently to ensure that all activity noted matches your own actions. If you see suspicious activity on your account, report it immediately by calling 1-833-658-0394. The ODJFS will work with you to verify your identity and also will lay out the next steps for protecting your identity, including your Personal Identification Number and reporting your identity theft to law enforcement.