Oregon Unemployment Fraud
The Oregon Employment Department (OED) takes unemployment fraud very seriously. The department uses a range of fraud prevention methods to ensure the accuracy of Oregon unemployment insurance payments – including contacting employers to confirm reasons for separations and receiving reports of employee quarterly wages.
The Department’s computer system also cross-checks wage information against benefit claims (including in other states) to detect any fraudulent applications.
How to report unemployment fraud
If you know or suspect someone who is collecting unemployment insurance benefits illegally, report it to the Oregon Employment Department.
- Report Online: Complete and submit the Suspected UI Fraud Investigations Referral Information form.
- Report by Phone: Call Benefit Payment Control at 503-947-1995 or 1-877-668-3204
How to report unemployment identity theft
If you suspect that your identity has been stolen and used to fraudulently receive unemployment benefits, please report it using the Oregon unemployment ID theft form.
What is unemployment fraud?
Oregon unemployment insurance fraud is a serious offense that occurs when a claimant purposely gives false information or omits important facts to obtain benefits. This is a crime and can lead to severe penalties, including criminal prosecution.
Employers and claimants can both commit unemployment insurance fraud. Employer fraud can involve actions aimed at evading tax obligations or setting up fake employer accounts to file fraudulent claims.
Claimant fraud can include failing to report job refusals, or meet Oregon work search requirements. Other examples of unemployment fraud include quitting a job without good cause, failing to report all earnings when filing your weekly claim, making false claims, or continuing to collect benefits when ineligible. Claimants must report all earnings accurately and provide truthful information regarding their job separation.
To avoid penalties and potential criminal charges, you must report work and earnings accurately at all times. If something is preventing you from working, you must report it to the OED.
You must be truthful and transparent throughout the process of collecting UI benefits. Submitting a fraudulent claim to obtain benefits can result in prosecution, fines, and imprisonment. A penalty of up to 52 unpaid weeks may be imposed, during which time you must be eligible for benefits and remain unemployed. This penalty continues until you claim all unpaid weeks or five years have passed.
An overpayment occurs when you receive extra unemployment compensation. Sometimes an overpayment is an innocent mistake, and other times it can be a sign of unemployment fraud. Overpayments must be paid back, unless you are given a waiver. Contact the Oregon Unemployment Department if you have special circumstances.
There are several reasons why overpayments happen, such as reporting incorrect earnings on a weekly claim, administrative errors, and or purposefully withholding information in order to receive benefits.
If you receive an overpayment, the Employment Department will mail you an administrative decision. This document will explain the reason for the overpayment and the total amount you owe. It will also provide instructions on how to file an appeal if you disagree with the amount that was overpaid. Tip: You can use the Oregon unemployment calculator to verify that your weekly benefit amount is accurate.
You will also receive a billing statement that tells you when the payment is due and what will happen if you do not pay. If you caused the overpayment, you can follow the instructions on the billing statement to make a payment in full. Alternatively, you can make payments through the Online Claim System or contact the Employment Department to set up a payment plan.
If you did not cause the overpayment and cannot afford to repay it, you can apply for a waiver to avoid paying back the debt. It is important to remember that overpayments must be resolved in a timely manner, so it is recommended to contact the Employment Department as soon as possible to discuss your options.
What is identity theft?
Another form of unemployment fraud is identity theft. Unemployment identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s identity and uses it to fraudulently apply for benefits from the Oregon unemployment department.
This theft can happen if your personal information like your Social Security number and date of birth is obtained through phishing scams or stolen mail.
Once the identity thief has obtained your personal information, they can use it to apply for unemployment benefits in your name. You may only become aware of the fraud when you receive notification from the OED or IRS despite not having filed a claim for benefits.
If you are a victim of UI identity theft, report the fraud immediately and take steps to protect your personal information.
Your identity may have been stolen if:
- You received a letter from the Employment Department regarding an unemployment claim that you did not file.
- You received unemployment compensation from the Employment Department that you did not apply for.
- Your employer notified you that they received a claim filed under your name from the OED.
- You received a 1099-G form but did not file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits last year.
Tips to prevent identity theft
There are several steps you can take to help keep your personal information safe.
Be cautious when giving out your Social Security number. Regularly check your financial statements and bills. Make sure you know when your payments are due and look out for any unauthorized charges. If you do notice suspicious activity, report it immediately. Protect your personal and financial information by shredding any documents you no longer need, and storing important records in a secure place in your home.
Install and update virus and firewall protection, and create strong passwords for each online account. Don’t store passwords on your computer, and change them every 90 days. Verify that a site is secure before submitting personal information. Be wary of suspicious emails or texts and don’t click on links from unknown sources.
You can protect your credit file by freezing it through the consumer credit reporting agencies. The three main agencies are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Another option is to ask for a fraud alert. You can place a security freeze or fraud alert free of charge.