ODJFS targeting unemployment fraud

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In an effort to combat unemployment benefits fraud, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported it has partnered with a national data hub.

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ Unemployment Insurance Integrity Center helps states identify fictitious claims by searching for and matching data used in fraud schemes in other states.

ODJFS is currently using the data hub for individual investigations, and also identifies unemployment claims filed outside the United States as well as claims that might show up in multiple states.

If they identify a potentially fraudulent claim that also was filed in another state, staff members will contact that state to share information and initiate an investigation.

The agency said it uses a variety of tools to detect fraud, including new hire reports from employers, cross-matches with quarterly unemployment insurance tax reports, cross-matches with local/state/national incarceration records, cross-matches with government records, performance audits and public tips.

ODJFS said it expects to routinely run its weekly claims through the hub by the end of the year.

Individuals who are found to have committed fraud must repay the benefit and a 25 percent penalty, in addition to having federal and state income tax returns intercepted, wages garnished and court-ordered restitution imposed.

They also will be prohibited from collecting future unemployment benefits until serving two penalty weeks for each week fraud was committed, and they may face criminal prosecution.

Ohioans can report fraud tips online at www.unemployment.ohio.gov/fraud, by emailing ucbenprotest@jfs.ohio.gov or by calling 1-800-686-1555.

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