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  • Writer's pictureKirstin Kennedy

Avoid UC Fraud by Knowing Exactly What It Is

Fraud committed against the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Department is a serious offense that can result in temporary or permanent loss of benefits and potentially criminal prosecution.

Generally, fraud constitutes an overt act with the attempt to deceive unemployment officials. However, it is important to be completely honest when applying for benefits in order to avoid accusations of fraud. For peace of mind, individuals applying for unemployment benefits should know exactly what constitutes unemployment compensation fraud so that they can both avoid running afoul of the system and report any malfeasance of others that they may come across.

Any omission or false statement made during the application for unemployment benefits can constitute fraud. This may come in the form of falsifying previous employment claims or failing to update the department regarding recently acquired employment. Additionally, withholding information that would otherwise disqualify a person from obtaining benefits may constitute fraud. For example, a person who is unable to work due to health conditions or incarceration is not eligible to obtain unemployment benefits. If such individuals applied for benefits and did not inform the department of their inability to work, the omission may be considered fraudulent.

Other issues that can result in illegal collection of benefits include individuals who continue to collect benefits for someone who has died, an independent contractor or self-employed person who has collected benefits, and refusal to work.

A second form of fraud that may be committed in the process of collecting unemployment benefits is related to issues surrounding taxes. This may occur when a person who applies for unemployment benefits was previously being paid under the table by his or her employer, and thus was not contributing to the tax based. Additionally, an employer who fails to register as such with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry or who does not report all employees and wages has committed a form of unemployment compensation fraud.

Any employer who assists an employee in making a fraudulent claim will be held responsible for the act of fraud, as will the employee.

Further, acts of identity theft through the application process will constitute as fraud. Identity theft may also carry other criminal and legal issues. Individuals must be accurate in their application process in order to avoid issues of misidentification. Identity theft is a serious crime, so individuals must never misrepresent themselves or pose as another, whether living or deceased.

To report potential unemployment compensation fraud, contact the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Department. Additionally, any individual who believes he or she may have provided misinformation to the department should contact an unemployment official immediately to resolve the matter.

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