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Wisconsin Unemployment Fraud

Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment fraud is a serious crime in Wisconsin. It involves knowingly providing false information or engaging in deceptive practices to obtain Wisconsin UI benefits that you are not entitled to. Fraudulent claims harm both the integrity of the unemployment insurance system and the legitimate workers who rely on these benefits.

The state of Wisconsin actively works to prevent, detect, and prosecute unemployment fraud in an effort to safeguard taxpayer funds and ensure that benefits reach those who genuinely need them.

How to report Wisconsin unemployment insurance fraud

If you suspect someone is fraudulently collecting Wisconsin unemployment benefits or if you believe your identity has been used to collect benefits fraudulently, you will need to report it to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s fraud investigation team. You can do so by submitting an online form, calling the unemployment fraud hotline, or sending a letter to:

Unemployment Insurance
Attn: Program Integrity
P.O. Box 7905
Madison, WI 53707

Due to the high volume of calls the department receives, the most effective way to report fraud is to fill out the form.

When submitting a report, it’s important to provide as much information as possible, such as:

  • Who is involved in the fraud?
  • What is their address?
  • What is the claimant’s Social Security number?
  • What is the claimant’s phone number?
  • What are they doing?
  • Are they working, running a business, living in another country, or unable to work?
  • When did they start engaging in fraudulent activities?
  • If they are working, what is the name of their employer?
  • Where is the employer located?
  • What is the employer’s address and phone number?
  • Who else knows about the fraud?

You can choose to remain anonymous or provide your contact information if you’re willing to provide more details if the fraud department has additional questions.

What constitutes unemployment fraud?

Wisconsin unemployment fraud refers to the act of intentionally providing false information or engaging in deceptive practices to receive unemployment benefits unlawfully. This includes actions such as misrepresenting employment status, underreporting income, providing false identification, or continuing to claim benefits while being employed.

Examples of Wisconsin unemployment fraud may include:

  1. Concealing employment: Claimants who are working and earning income but fail to report it in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits.
  2. Identity theft: When someone uses another person’s personal information, such as Social Security number, to fraudulently file for unemployment benefits.
  3. False claims: Making false statements about job search activities, availability for work, or eligibility criteria to qualify for unemployment benefits.
  4. Double-dipping: Claiming unemployment benefits while simultaneously receiving wages or benefits from another source without reporting it.
  5. Non-disclosure of work refusal: Failing to report job offers or refusing suitable employment opportunities, which disqualifies you from receiving unemployment benefits.
  6. False documentation: Providing forged or altered documents to support a fraudulent unemployment claim.
  7. Failure to report changes: Neglecting to report changes in employment status, income, or eligibility requirements, which can result in fraudulent unemployment claims.

These examples illustrate how people may attempt to manipulate the system to receive benefits they are not entitled to, thereby defrauding the Wisconsin unemployment insurance program.

Penalties for committing UI fraud in Wisconsin

If you intentionally hide information that affects your eligibility for unemployment benefits, you will face consequences. You will lose a portion of your future benefits, known as a benefit reduction, and will also have to pay a penalty out of your own pocket.

The benefit reduction must be fulfilled before you can receive any more unemployment benefits. It lasts for six years from the date it is determined. You must either claim benefits within the six-year period or the time limit will expire. The benefit reduction cannot be paid directly – it needs to be claimed. It is separate from any overpaid benefits, which must be repaid.

In cases where individuals repeatedly commit fraud or have significant overpayments, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has the authority to pursue criminal prosecution through the legal system. The department will collaborate with the appropriate district attorney to file criminal charges against the offenders.

Criminal penalties are in addition to administrative penalties, and can include fines ranging from $100 to $500, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both, for each offense.

Can a claim be edited after submission?

Claims cannot be edited after the fact. Carefully review all information for accuracy before clicking “Submit.”

If you believe you made an error on your initial application or weekly certification, you will need to call the claimant assistance hotline.

What is an overpayment?

An overpayment occurs when a claimant receives unemployment benefits they were not entitled to.

There are several reasons overpayments occur, including:

  1. You failed to report or inaccurately reported your wages when filing a weekly claim, and later the correct wage information is received.
  2. An eligibility issue arises, such as when your employer disputes your request for benefits because you were fired for misconduct.
  3. Adjustments are made to a claim, which changes the amount of benefits you should have received.

Can I get my overpayment waived?

The department can grant a waiver if the overpayment occurred through no fault of your own. In certain cases, requiring the claimant to repay the overpayment would be unfair or against good conscience, especially when doing so would present a significant financial hardship.

If you qualify for an overpayment waiver, you will receive a message in your claimant portal message center. The message will contain a link that you can click to apply for the waiver.

If you do not qualify for an overpayment waiver, but believe the overpayment determination was made in error, you have the right to appeal the decision before an administrative law judge.

What happens if I don’t repay the overpayment?

If you do not establish a suitable payment plan, or if you fail to comply with an existing plan, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has the authority to garnish your wages, future benefits, and federal tax returns or put a lien on your property until the entire amount you owe is repaid.

How does Wisconsin detect unemployment fraud?

Wisconsin employs various methods to detect unemployment fraud. One way is through data analytics, where sophisticated systems analyze claimant data and patterns to identify suspicious activities or discrepancies.

The state also collaborates with other agencies and employers to cross-check information and verify the accuracy of claims.

Additionally, the Department of Workforce Development conducts investigations based on tips, reports, or any indication of fraudulent activity.

These measures help in uncovering instances of unemployment fraud, ensuring the integrity of the system.

Unemployment Identity Theft

Unemployment identity fraud occurs when someone unlawfully uses another person’s identity to file for unemployment insurance benefits. This type of fraud can have significant consequences for both the victim and the state’s unemployment system. It not only leads to financial losses and potential damage to the victim’s credit, but it also undermines the integrity of the program and diverts resources from those who genuinely need assistance.

Wisconsin actively works to detect and prevent unemployment identity fraud through various measures, including enhanced security protocols and collaboration with law enforcement agencies. However, it is still crucial for people to be vigilant, protect their personal information, and report any suspected fraudulent activity to help combat this type of fraud.

Signs you may be a victim of unemployment identity fraud

  • Receiving a benefit payment despite not filing an initial claim
  • Receiving communication from the state unemployment agency regarding an unemployment claim you did not make.
  • Noticing unfamiliar employers listed on your wage statements or unemployment claim records.
  • Receiving tax forms related to unemployment benefits that you did not apply for or receive.
  • Receiving notification of an unemployment claim being approved or denied without your knowledge.
  • Discovering discrepancies or unfamiliar activity on your credit report related to unemployment benefits.
  • Receiving requests from the state unemployment agency for additional information regarding a claim you did not make.
  • Noticing a sudden decrease in your paycheck due to wage garnishment for an unemployment claim you did not file.
  • Receiving notice of unpaid taxes or penalties related to fraudulent unemployment benefits received in your name.

How to tell if a message is from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

  • All text messages from the Department of Workforce Development contain the address.
  • The Department of Workforce Development will never text you to notify you that your profile or claim will be deactivated.
  • The Department of Workforce Development does not send group text messages.
  • Official text messages from the department will direct you to log on to your claimant portal to securely view messages.
  • Do not click any text messages that contain links or ask for your personal or login information
  • If the department calls you, ask the caller to provide their first name, adjudicator code, and phone number.
  • If you suspect a call is fraudulent, hang up and call the UI claimant assistance hotline

Examples of unemployment identity theft claims

Unemployment Application Assistance

Be cautious of services that claim to assist with applying for unemployment insurance on Facebook or Upwork. These posts are scams, and it’s important not to apply or pay for their services.

No Filing Fee

It’s important to know that there is no charge for filing for unemployment benefits. If someone claiming to be from Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance contacts you and asks for payment in order to file for benefits, do not provide any information or send money.

Fake Websites

There are many websites that claim to help people file for unemployment benefits. Some of these websites offer their services for free, while others charge a fee. However, it’s important to be cautious because these websites often ask for personal and sensitive information like your Social Security number, address, work history, and email address.

Phishing Emails and Text Messages

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will never ask you to provide personal information or confirm your eligibility for unemployment benefits through email or text message. If you receive an email or text message and you’re unsure if it’s from Wisconsin unemployment insurance, contact a claims specialist by phone.

Email Scams

If you receive an email from the Job Center of Wisconsin telling you that you must set up a Google Hangouts account for an interview or risk losing benefits, do not respond.

If you receive an email about your unemployment benefits payment method and it asks you to enroll in a direct deposit card program online, with a mailing address in Las Vegas, NV, do not reply. These emails are not from Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance, and they would never contact you via email about direct deposit.

Lastly, be cautious of emails claiming you’ve won a free $1,000 Visa gift card. They are scams that can infect your computer with malware. The Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Division does not give away gift cards or other “prizes.”

Debit Cards

There is a recent scam that tricks claimants into visiting a website to apply for a debit card. However, this is a fraudulent company that charges fees for having no activity on the card. In reality, Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance uses the U.S. Bank ReliaCard to distribute unemployment benefits, and will automatically send one to you after you apply for benefits. Be cautious and only use the official Wisconsin unemployment insurance channels to access your benefits.

ATM Scams

It’s important to stay safe when using your Wisconsin unemployment insurance debit card or any other personal debit or credit cards. Keep your PIN private, and be careful when withdrawing cash at ATMs. If you notice that an ATM or gas pump looks suspicious, it’s best to avoid using it. Criminals may try to steal your card information by using skimming devices to copy data from the magnetic strips on your card, putting your account at risk.

Job Offers

If someone calls you claiming to be an employee of Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance and offers you a job, but asks for your credit card number and personal information in order to proceed with the hiring process, do not give them that information. Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance would never ask you for your credit card details.

Online Surveys

Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance does not provide payment to claimants for taking surveys. If you receive an email that asks you to complete an online survey, claiming to be from the State of Wisconsin or Department of Workforce Development that promises payment for participating in the survey, do not proceed with it. This is likely a deceptive attempt to obtain your personal information.

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