Texas Unemployment Fraud
Understanding Texas Unemployment Fraud
Unemployment insurance fraud is a serious infraction that could potentially keep vital unemployment benefits out of the hands of the unemployed Texans who need them the most.
Examples of Texas unemployment fraud include behaviors like failing to accurately report work hours when submitting a weekly certification claim for benefits. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, work activities include, but aren’t limited to, full-time work, part-time work, reduced hours, temporary work, contract work, casual work, side jobs, commission-only work, and self-employment profits.
As part of your Texas unemployment job search requirements, you must report any work you’re doing when you make your weekly claim. Be sure to report this information accurately to avoid suspicion of fraud.
Texas unemployment fraud can include not accurately reporting your gross earnings when making your initial claim, as well as not reporting a separation from work if it occurred while you were receiving benefits.
Other fraudulent behaviors include either knowingly or unknowingly allowing someone else to request unemployment assistance using your personal information or using someone else’s personal information to qualify for unemployment benefits yourself. This constitutes identity theft. Requesting unemployment benefits while incarcerated also is considered unemployment insurance fraud, as is any instance of knowingly providing false information at any point in your unemployment claim process.
In some cases, accepting overpayment of benefits can be interpreted as unemployment insurance fraud. Using the Texas unemployment calculator can help you ensure that your benefit amount is correct.
Anyone who receives Texas unemployment benefits is responsible for obeying all attendant rules and laws. If a benefits recipient is found to have committed unemployment fraud, penalties range from loss of remaining benefits associated with their claim to criminal prosecution and potential jail time at both the state and the federal levels.
Unemployment Benefits Fraud is Punishable by Law
Unemployment insurance fraud can be charged if you illegally file for benefits. In Texas, unemployment benefits fraud is regularly prosecuted at the felony level. Penalties may include fines of up to $4,000 or jail up to one year or both, loss of benefits received, and the right to benefits that remain in your benefit year. Unemployment fraud can happen if you misreport previous income, fail to seek a new job, lie on an application or do not report an income source.
Examples of UI Fraud could include:
- You start work and do not accurately report your work and work hours
- You do not report gross earnings accurately
- You do not report a job separation
- You do not keep your Tele-Serv Personal Identification Number (PIN) or Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) password protected and someone requests benefits using your personal information
- You request payment of unemployment benefits while incarcerated
- You use another person’s identity to apply for benefits
If convicted of unemployment fraud, you must pay back benefits that you were not eligible to receive and a 15% penalty on benefits you illegally received. The Texas Unemployment Compensation Act (TUCA) is the legal basis for initiating a civil suit against you for the collection of past due benefit overpayments.
DO NOT contact TWC via email. Instead, you may report any allegations by calling the TWC Fraud Hotline at 800-252-3642.
How To Report Texas Unemployment Fraud
The Texas Workforce Commission is authorized by the Texas Labor Code to investigate any allegation of fraud, waste, or program abuse involving any TWC program, including benefits for unemployed Texans. To report to the TWC any type of fraud other than identity theft, you can take any of the following steps. First, you can report Texas unemployment insurance fraud online by completing TWC’s employment fraud reporting form. If that doesn’t work for you, you also may submit a detailed description of the fraud to [email protected]. Please be advised that the TWC encourages you to avoid reporting ID theft via email. You also may call the TWC fraud hotline at 800-252-3642 to make an anonymous report.
The TWC fraud hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You should leave as specific a message as you possibly can. TWC does not recommend using the fraud hotline to report identity theft.
In addition to reporting suspected fraud to the Texas Workforce Commission, you also have the option to make a report through the state auditor’s office. You may do so by contacting the state auditor’s office through the SAO Hotline website or by calling the state auditor’s office hotline at 800-892-8348.
How To Report Unemployment Identity Theft in Texas
If you believe someone is using your identity to fraudulently apply for Texas unemployment benefits, it’s important to report the situation as quickly as possible through the Texas Workforce Commission’s online fraud portal.
The TWC fortunately has in place strong protective measures to identify, track and lock down attempts at ID theft, which protects Texas workers and the overall integrity of the Texas unemployment system. In many cases, the TWC is able to stop identity theft fraud before a single dollar in unemployment assistance is paid out. If you have information about a suspicious claim allegedly filed using a stolen identity, you should share the information as soon as possible.
Once you’ve reported the suspected identity theft fraud to the TWC, you should also contact your local police about the fraudulent claim. They will open an incident report and assign your case a specific reference number, which you should keep in a safe place.
Your next step will be to visit the Federal Trade Commission website, which will allow you to not only report your ID theft but also to access valuable tips and resources about identity ID in general.
Reach out to credit reporting bureaus to report the identity theft. You can request that a fraud alert be placed on all of your credit accounts, and if the situation warrants, you also may request that your credit account be frozen. This also is a good time to request a free copy of your credit report so that you can flag any suspicious activity.
Contact information for the three major credit reporting agencies is listed below. By law, you only need to contact one of these bureaus. Each one is required to contact the other two if they receive notification of identity theft.
- Equifax: 800-349-9960
- Experian: 800-397-3742
- Transunion: 888-909-8872
Suspected ID theft may be reported by employers participating in the Texas unemployment program or by individuals. For example, if you receive a debit card or a UI benefit check related to a fraudulent claim, please report it immediately. You also should destroy the debit card you received and refrain from activating the debit card account.
In addition, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft. Guard your personal information carefully. Don’t give it out to anyone you don’t know over the phone or via email. Bear in mind that a TWC representative will never ask for sensitive information like your credit card number or a bank routing or account number. Nor will any TWC representative ever ask you to pay a fee to file your claim or take any other action related to your account.