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What Is Unemployment Insurance Fraud?

INFORMATION FOR CLAIMANTS

The D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) is the only source of information and support for any unemployment claim in the District of Columbia.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft or have reason to believe your personal information has been misused, you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission and/or the Attorney General’s office.

For District of Columbia Residents:

Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
4441 4th Street NW, Suite 1100 South
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 442 - 9828

https://oag.dc.gov

Out-of-State residents can visit Report Unemployment Identity Theft | U.S. Department of Labor to contact their local office.

Reporting of Identity Theft and Obtaining a police report:  You have the right to obtain any police report filed in the United States regarding this incident.  If you are the victim of fraud or identity theft, you also have the right to file a police report.

REPORT THE IDENTITY THEFT

  • Report the identity theft to DOES: Report Suspicious UI Communication
  • If you live Out-of-State, please use the State Directory for Reporting Unemployment Identity Theft at the bottom of this U.S. Department of Labor webpage to find out how to contact the state agency.
    • If possible, report the fraud online. An online report will save you time and be easier for the agency to process.
    • Keep any confirmation or case number you get. If you speak with anyone, keep a record of who you spoke with and when.
    • Follow the steps the agency tells you to take.
  • Report the fraud to your employer. Keep a copy of any confirmation you get.
  • Report the fraud to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by completing an NCDF Complaint Form online, or by calling 866-720-57

PROTECT YOUR CREDIT

  • Consider freezing your credit with the 3 national credit bureaus.  Learn more here:  What To Know About Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts
  • Stops most access to your credit report unless you lift or remove it.
  • Is free to place and remove.
  • Lasts until you lift or remove it.
  • Will require you to take a few extra steps the next time you apply for credit.

Credit bureau contact information:

TransUnion

Experian

Equifax

An alternative to freezing your credit would be to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.  Place a free, one-year fraud alert by contacting on of the 3 national bureaus.  Use the credit bureau contact information provided.  If you contact one credit bureau, they are obligated to share with the other two.

Please report an account or transaction you do not recognize.  Please visit Report Unemployment Identity Theft | U.S. Department of Labor and follow the steps on the site. 

STAY ALERT FOR NEW SIGNS OF IDENTITY THEFT

  • Check your credit reports regularly at AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Through April 20, 2022, you can get a free credit report every week from each of the three national credit bureaus.
  • If you find new signs of identity theft, like accounts or transactions you don't recognize, return to IdentityTheft.gov to file a report and get a personal recovery plan.

FILE YOUR TAX RETURNS

Everyone who receives unemployment benefits should get an IRS Form 1099-G (Certain Government Payments), used for reporting the income on your tax returns. If you get a Form 1099-G but didn't collect any or all of the benefits listed on the form, visit the IRS website for the IRS's guidance on identity theft involving unemployment benefits.

WHAT IS UI FRAUD?

If you knowingly collect benefits based on false or inaccurate information that you intentionally provided when you filed your claim, you are committing fraud. Unemployment Insurance fraud is punishable by law and violators could face several serious penalties and consequences.

Examples of UI fraud could include:

  • Returning to work but continues to collect UI benefits.
  • Working a part-time job but does not report his or her earnings to the state, thereby collecting more benefits than he or she is allowed.
  • Performing temporary work while collecting UI benefits but does not report the earnings when filing his or her weekly claim.
  • Withholding back information or gives false information to the state UI agency.
  • Ineligibility to collect UI benefits in the future
  • New federally imposed penalty for fraudulent overpayments - Effective October 1, 2014
  • Anyone who collects Unemployment Insurance benefits is legally responsible for following the requirements set by state law. Failure to follow the rules can result in serious consequences that will impact you and your family.

WHAT IS AN IMPROPER PAYMENT?

An improper payment of unemployment insurance is when you receive benefit payments when you do not qualify. You will receive a document from DOES explaining this decision along with the full amount of improper payment.

Some of the most common reasons for improper payments are:

  • Failure to report everything you earned.
  • Incorrectly reporting how much you earned, for example, reporting “take home” pay, instead of gross pay.
  • Receiving back pay from your employer for the weeks you received unemployment benefits
  • A decision by an Administrative Law Judge in the Office of Administrative Hearings to overturn an earlier ruling that you were entitled to benefits.
  • Continuing to file for benefits after returning to full-time work.

Claimants are responsible for paying back the full amount they were improperly paid.

Repayment may be made either in a lump sum or as part of a payment plan agreement with DOES. Future unemployment benefits may also be denied if there is an unpaid balance owed. If repayment is not made, legal action may be taken to collect the payment. Your DC income tax refunds may be used to pay off the amount owed. If you are a District government employee, your wages may be used to repay the amount you owe.

By federal law, if DOES finds that payments made to you were fraudulent because you reported false or dishonest information, you will need to pay back the amount plus 15%. For example, if you received $400 in improper payment, you would owe $460 (15% of $400 is $60).

If you made the choice to provide false information or did not tell DOES important information to get or increase benefits, you may be disqualified for as long as one year beyond your benefit year ending date. You may also be subject to criminal prosecution and possible jail time.

WHERE DO I SEND MY REPAYMENT?

Please make your check or money order payable to The Department of Employment Services. Include your full name and the last four digits of your Social Security Number. All payments to DOES should be sent to:

Department of Employment Services
Benefit Payment Control Branch
4058 Minnesota Avenue NE – Suite 3100
Washington, DC 20019

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T PAY BACK THE IMPROPER PAYMENT AMOUNT PLUS THE 15% PENALTY ON TOP OF IT?

If you don’t repay the improperly paid amount or follow the payment plan you agreed on with DOES, your future wages, income tax returns, or future unemployment claims filed in any state could be used to pay off the money you owe.

If you don’t pay the penalty, you may be subject to an offset of federal and state taxes and referral for prosecution.

If you are trying to repay an improper payment and are not able to make the payments, you are able to request a waiver. Please note that if you are paying back improper payments because of fraud, you are not eligible for a waiver.

HOW DO I REPORT FRAUD?

If you think you may have committed UI fraud, let us help you address the issue. Call 1.877.FRAUD.60 (1.877.372.8360) today.

If you are aware of UI fraud occurring and would like to report it, please call 1.877.FRAUD.60 (1.877.372.8360) immediately.


INFORMATION FOR EMPLOYERS

The D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) is the only source of information and support for any unemployment claim in the District of Columbia.

Overpayments

If claimants are determined to have received benefits to which they are not entitled, they will receive a written notice that explains the amount overpaid and the reason for the overpayment. Some of the most common reasons for overpayments are the following:

  • Failure to report earnings;
  • Incorrectly reporting earnings (e.g., reporting net earnings instead of gross earnings);
  • Failure to report pensions;
  • A decision by an Appeals Examiner or the Office of Administrative Hearings which overturns an earlier ruling that claimants were entitled to benefits;
  • Continuing to file for benefits after return to full-time work; or
  • Back-pay awards: If claimants have been restored to work with back pay, they are overpaid for the weeks for which they received UI benefits. If an employer makes a back-pay award to a claimant who has received benefits during the same period covered by the back-pay award, the employer is required by law to withhold from the back-pay award an amount equal to the benefits paid. For benefits received or payment information, contact the UI Benefit Payment Control Unit at (202) 698-5111.

Repayment of Overpayments

Claimants who are overpaid are liable for full repayment to the state. Repayment may be made either in a lump sum or in agreed upon installments. Future unemployment benefits due may also be withheld to satisfy outstanding overpayments. If repayment is not made, legal action will be taken to collect the overpayment.

Penalty for Fraud

As federally mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor, effective October 1, 2014, all unemployment compensation payments made on or after October 21, 2013 that were determined by the Agency to be fraudulent will be assessed a monetary penalty of 15%. This 15% penalty is to be paid in addition to the actual amount of the fraudulent overpayment. If claimants knowingly make false statements, falsify work search contacts, or withhold important facts to obtain or increase benefits, they may be disqualified for up to one year beyond their benefit year ending date. They are also subject to civil or criminal prosecution and possible incarceration.

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO EMPLOYERS: As of October 21, 2013, federal law forbids the relief of employer charges in instances where employers demonstrate an established pattern of being non-responsive to requests for separation and wage information.

The relief of non-charges also extends to employers who fail to file their quarterly reports timely. As such, the District will not provide relief to an employer’s UI account for UI overpayments if it is determined the overpayment resulted from the employer being non-responsive to requests for separation and wage requests or failed to furnish quarterly wage reports in a timely manner. The District has determined that two separate unsuccessful attempts to receive information from an employer will result in the prohibition of relief of charges.

Tax Withholding

UI benefits are subject to both federal and District income taxes. Claimants can choose how deductions are made from UI benefits and claimants are sent a Form 1099 at year end.

Visit: UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 02-12 and UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 02-12, Change 1.

Detection of Improper Payments

DOES employs many techniques to detect claimants who may be receiving or who have received benefits to which they are not entitled. These include:

  • A random audit of claims by the Benefit Accuracy Measurement Unit;
  • A computerized cross match of wages reported by employers with unemployment benefits paid for the same weeks;
  • An investigation of information received from employers;
  • Computerized cross matches of wages reported by employers in neighboring states, such as Maryland and Virginia;
  • Computerized cross matches of new hire information.

Role of Employer in Detecting Improper UI Benefit Payment

Every quarter, employers receive a summary of all charges to their accounts.  Employers should carefully review these quarterly charge statements to see if there are individuals listed as receiving UI benefits who returned to work during the quarter in question. 

In some cases, a claimant may have been on an employer's payroll and properly received unemployment beneftis for the same quarter.  Employers who suspect that a claimant may have received improper benefits should contact the Office of Unemployment Compensation - Benefit Payment Control Unit at (202) 698-5111. 

Employers may also help to detect improper benefit payments by cooperating with requests for information received from DOES about detailed weekly earnings for claimants suspected of being improperly paid.  For more information, please read:  D.C. Department of Employment Services:  Unemployment Insurance Handbook for Employers.