NCDES takes on fraudPublished 9:07pm Monday, December 10, 2012
The process used by unemployment-insurance claimants to certify they are eligible for benefits is expanding.
The move this month by the N.C. Division of Employment Security is part of its effort to strengthen the state’s unemployment insurance program, including trying to reduce the number of fraudulent claims for unemployment –insurance benefits.
Weekly certification is the process used to verify the claimant was unemployed during the week and is eligible for benefits. Claimants must certify for eligibility for each week they want to receive benefit payments. Certification may take place via the Internet or over the telephone.
Neal Anderson, supervisor of the DES office in Washington, said the number of weekly certification questions increases from four to 14 later this month. The four questions were asked to determine if a claimant did any work in the prior week, did he or she seek work and did he or she refuse work, Andersons said.
“That was their certification as far as doing what the commission asked them to do as far as their work search and being able and available for work,” he said.
Under the new process, claimants will be asked if the answers they are providing are true and accurate and if they understand they may be prosecuted in a court of law for providing false information, Anderson said.
“What it really does is it breaks those four basic questions in the old-time certification down into little bit finer pieces,” Anderson said. The new questions are seeking more details about a claimant’s search for work and if he or she received several types of compensation such as holiday pay, bonus pay or separation pay, he said.
As of Dec. 1, As of this past Saturday, if the amount of benefits improperly obtained is more than $400, the claimant as well as any person providing assistance would be charged with a Class I felony. An individual may be punished by imprisonment in the state’s prison system from three to eight months and a fine also may be assessed.
If the amount of benefits obtained is $400 or less, the claimant as well as any person providing assistance would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. An individual may be punished by imprisonment in the state’s prison system from one to 120 days and a fine may be assessed.