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Oklahoma Unemployment Fraud

Unemployment fraud occurs when an individual unlawfully collects unemployment benefits they are not entitled to receive. In general, there are three types of Oklahoma unemployment fraud: claimant fraud, employer fraud, and identity theft unemployment fraud.

In 2021, Oklahoma was hit particularly hard with identity theft-related fraudulent UI claims.

What is Oklahoma unemployment fraud?

Unemployment fraud is the purposeful misrepresentation of information in order to collect Oklahoma unemployment benefits. Unemployment fraud has become more common ever since the unemployment extension during COVID-19. There are a wide variety of ways individual claimants, employers, and criminals can commit unemployment fraud.

An individual claimant can commit Oklahoma unemployment fraud by willfully misrepresenting or withholding information in order to receive more unemployment insurance benefits than they are lawfully entitled to. Failing to report income, work offers, or employment are just a few examples of false claims that count as claimant unemployment fraud.

Neglecting to pay back an overpayment is also fraudulent. You can find out how much unemployment insurance compensation you are entitled to using the Oklahoma unemployment calculator. If you receive more unemployment compensation than the amount you are eligible for, then you are required by Oklahoma state law to repay the overpayment.

Unemployment fraud is committed by employers who falsify employee information (such as by saying they quit instead of being laid off), fail to report wages paid to an employee, or wrongly classify an employee as a contract worker.

Criminal unemployment fraud is on the rise in recent years, especially in Oklahoma. It occurs when an individual engages in criminal activity to take advantage of an unemployment service. Criminals use stolen personal information like a Social Security number or birth date to file a bogus claim and receive unemployment benefits under another person’s name. Some criminals also defraud individuals through malicious websites that mimic the Oklahoma state government’s unemployment insurance portal or through email phishing scams.

If you receive a letter in the mail for unemployment benefits that you did not apply for, a 1099-G tax document for unemployment benefits you did not receive, or an unemployment insurance payment you did not file a claim for, then you may be a victim of identity theft. Sometimes, your employer may also receive an unemployment form in your name that you did not request.

Penalties for committing unemployment fraud:

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission works together with federal, local, and state law enforcement to track down and prosecute those responsible for fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. In response to the rise in unemployment fraud, the Oklahoma State Bureau has also launched an unemployment fraud task force that focuses on investigating fraudulent unemployment cases.

Unemployment insurance fraud is classified as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the severity of the fraud. The US Department of Labor requires every state to administer a minimum penalty of 15% of the fraudulent claim amount. In the state of Oklahoma, this fine is 25% of the amount of the overpayment.

Individuals found guilty of unemployment fraud in Oklahoma may also be required to pay back the overpayment amount, have a garnishment taken from their state tax return, and face up to 6 months in prison depending on the extent of the offense. Criminal prosecution of unemployment fraud can also result in temporary or permanent loss of Oklahoma unemployment eligibility for future UI benefits.

How to report fraud:

If you suspect that someone you know is committing unemployment fraud or if you are a victim of unemployment fraud identity theft, then you can file a report through the OAG unemployment fraud form on my.ok.gov. In order to help expedite the investigation of your report, you should include as much information in your formal complaint as possible. This includes attaching photos or scans of relevant documents, like a Notice of Unemployment claim, tax form, or payment card.

Alternatively, you can call the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to report fraud at 405-557-7157 or 405-557-5400. You can also send an email to [email protected].

It is important to note that unemployment fraud forms should only be filled out by the person who has experienced evidence of the fraudulent unemployment claim. If you wish to file a report for someone else, you should include their contact information so that they can be questioned directly.

Protect your personal information:

Identity theft is a common and serious crime that affects thousands every year. Oklahoma officials have sent out a warning to beware of identity theft unemployment scams. Although identity theft is prevalent, there are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

In order to file an unemployment benefit claim under your name, a fraudster must first steal your identity by obtaining your personal information, such as your Social Security number and birth date. While many fraudsters get personal information from data leaks posted on the dark web, many others deceive their victim directly. One way scammers can get your personal information is by tricking you to hand it over to them through malicious websites, email phishing, or text smishing scams.

Always verify that the sender of a text or email is really who they say they are, check emails and texts for misspellings or suspicious links, and beware of communications that require urgent action or promise offers that are too good to be true. If you are ever unsure if an email or text message regarding unemployment insurance is legitimate, contact the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to verify.

Similarly, whenever you enter personal details on an unemployment portal or website, make sure the URL is correct and the connection is secure and encrypted. Fraudsters have gone to great lengths to create fake websites that pretend to be official Oklahoma government web portals. The pandemic brought with it a rise in unemployment fraud scams across the United States. Oklahoma citizens have become especially targeted in the past couple of years, so always take extra precautions to safeguard your personal information.

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