West Virginia Unemployment Fraud
Unemployment fraud has become a significant issue in West Virginia, often involving individuals making false claims to illegally obtain unemployment insurance benefits. In some cases, fraudsters use stolen identities to apply for unemployment benefits, causing a host of problems for the victims.
The state of West Virginia has recently strengthened its fraud prevention efforts to address fraudulent unemployment claims made by both employees and employers. Residents are urged to report suspected fraud to Workforce West Virginia.
How to report WV unemployment fraud
You can report WV unemployment fraud in three different ways: online form, email, or by phone.
Report UI fraud online
On this page, you will be given options to define what type of fraud you are reporting. Follow the prompts to submit the form.
Report UI fraud by email
You can also report unemployment fraud by sending an email to email@example.com.
Report UI fraud by phone
To report West Virginia unemployment fraud by phone, call the toll-free UI Fraud Hotline at 800-252-5627 option 5.
An overpayment occurs when you receive more benefits than you are entitled to, which can be the result of an honest mistake, or by being intentionally misleading, which is a form of unemployment fraud.
If you have an overpayment, you are required to pay back the money to Workforce West Virginia.
What is unemployment fraud?
Unemployment insurance fraud is when someone deliberately misleads or hides information to get benefits they’re not actually eligible to receive. It can also take the form of identity theft, which is when a criminal pretends to be someone else and files an unemployment claim.
Employers can also commit unemployment fraud. Examples of employer UI fraud include intentionally classifying a full-time worker as an independent contractor, or falsely claiming an employee quit instead of being laid off.
Examples of West Virginia unemployment fraud
Here are some examples of WV unemployment fraud.
Letting someone else claim your UI benefits: It is fraudulent to allow a friend or family member to collect your WV unemployment benefits on your behalf. Eligibility for unemployment is based on each person’s work history and circumstance, and allowing someone else to claim these benefits is fraudulent activity.
Identity theft: Using someone else’s identity like their Social Security number or personal contact information to file for unemployment benefits in their name is a serious form of identity theft. This kind of fraud not only exploits the WV unemployment system but also puts the victim at risk.
Being dishonest about your ability and availability to work: Misrepresenting your ability or availability to work full-time is another form of unemployment fraud. If you claim to be available for full-time work while you are ill, on a trip, or otherwise unable to work full-time, you’re providing false information and committing unemployment fraud.
Failing to report income: If you are earning money while collecting unemployment benefits, you must report these wages accurately. Failing to report your income correctly can lead to overpayments or accusations of UI fraud.
Being dishonest about searching for a new job: If you claim that you’re actively seeking employment when you’re not, that’s fraud. The West Virginia unemployment program requires claimants to perform work search activities each week.
Lying about the reason you lost your job: West Virginia unemployment law states that you must be unemployed through no fault of your own. If you are dishonest and say you were laid off when in fact you were fired for misconduct, that’s an example of UI fraud.
Penalties for WV Unemployment Fraud
WV unemployment insurance fraud is a severe offense that comes with hefty consequences.
If you’ve received any UI benefit payments as a result of fraudulent activity, you’ll have to pay it back. You’ll also be charged interest and other mandatory fines. Depending on the circumstances, you may also face criminal charges and jail time.
You may not be able to collect additional UI benefits until your debt from the fraud is fully repaid. The state of West Virginia is authorized to take your state and federal income tax refunds to pay back the debt if you fail to return the money.
How Workforce West Virginia fights fraud
Workforce WV uses several methods to identify individuals and prevent unemployment insurance fraud. One method involves comparing the earnings reported by workers to those reported by their employers. This helps ensure that individuals aren’t receiving benefits while still collecting wages.
Another way the state fights fraud is by auditing claims. Regular audits allow for a detailed review of claims to spot any inconsistencies or irregularities that may indicate fraudulent activity.
Workforce WV also accesses state and national databases of recently hired individuals. This helps verify that people are not still collecting UI benefits after they’ve begun working again, which would lead to overpayments.
Avoid West Virginia UI Fraud
The best way to avoid UI fraud is to be honest. You must make every effort to provide complete, accurate information when applying for WV unemployment benefits.
If you find yourself unsure about what information you need to provide, call Workforce West Virginia and a support rep can answer your questions.