Back in November 2017, several staff members at western Michigan television station WZZM 13 had unemployment claims filed in their names and the problem seems to be getting worse in the Grand Rapids area. There have been more than 100 reports taken since November in Walker alone. Wyoming has reported 19, and Kent County overall has seen about one to six reports per week.
The result of unemployment insurance fraud is an increase in unemployment taxes for businesses: It threatens the availability of funds for people with legitimate unemployment insurance claims and burdens the state’s unemployment trust fund. After these recent data breaches, the agency anticipated an increase in false claims. However, they have put a higher degree of security measures in place, and the agency is catching most of the fraud before money is paid out.
How does unemployment fraud happen?
Unemployment fraud occurs when a perpetrator uses an individual’s personally identifiable information to file for unemployment benefits on the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s website.
According to WZZM13 reports, investigators say the criminals are from out of state and using the UIA because the agency typically tries to get people benefits as soon as possible.
What should you do if this happens to you?
- Contact the Unemployment Insurance Agency immediately to report the fraud. Report fraud online at Michigan.gov/uia through the Report Fraud or Report Identity Theft link or call the UIA Fraud hotline at 1855-UI-CRIME.
- Complete UIA Form 6349 Statement of Identity Theft and submit the form either in person at a Problem Resolution Office (PRO), by mail at Unemployment Insurance, PO Box 169, Grand Rapids MI 49501, or by fax at 517-656-0427.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit record at the three credit reporting agencies (listed below) and get a copy of your credit reports. A fraud alert is free and will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. To place a fraud alert, you only need to contact one of the three credit bureaus listed below. The company that you contact is required by law to tell the other two.
If you suspect a claim has been filed fraudulently in your name, contact BCN Services for additional resources and assistance.
Lisandra Quiñones Garrow, Partnership Manager