The State of Michigan is one of several states that is experiencing increased activity in imposter unemployment claims. Imposter claims are filed using previously stolen or fraudulent personal information. The expanded benefits available under the newly created federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program has resulted in increased activity among criminals particularly those posing as self-employed workers or independent contractors to illegally obtain benefits.
The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) recently issued a national alert regarding an international criminal ring exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to commit largescale fraud against state unemployment programs. The UIA, Michigan State Police Cyber Command and Dept. of Technology Management and Budget Cybersecurity are coordinating with the USSS to obtain cyber threat indicators related to national fraud activity.
The UIA has developed additional fraud protections, including additional requirements to verify identity and authenticate claim eligibility. These changes could impact both new and existing claimants but are made using the latest understanding of how criminals are gaining access to benefits. Some existing claimants may have received “Stop Payment” notices on their accounts and have been sent instructions on how to submit the additional information. Certain financial institutions may also place a hold on a customer’s account if it believes there is suspicious activity. Customers should contact their institution directly if this occurs.
As employers, you can help detect and prevent imposter claims by:
- Checking the monetary determination you receive. If the Agency has suspicions and have flagged the claim, the monetary determination will note that the Agency is unable to verify the identity. If you notice inaccurate information, or if the employee referenced is still working for you, it is very important that you notify the Agency. Protesting the monetary determination (Form 1575E) timely in these occurrences may be the best way to stop a fraudulent claim from being paid. Please note that although you have 30 days to protest, notifying the Agency within 10 days of the mail date on the monetary determination will help prevent the claim from entering pay status. You may submit a protest through your MiWAM account or submit a written protest by mail or fax as instructed on Form 1575E.
- If your employee has been a victim of suspected ID theft, they may receive a letter from UIA - Form UIA 6347, Request for Identity Verification. Employees should submit the requested ID verification documents, along with the Letter ID found on Form 6347 through their MiWAM account.
- Responding to any fact-finding requests you receive from the UIA. If the Agency needs more information from the employer regarding a claimant’s separation, you may receive Form UIA 1713, Request for Information Relative to Possible Ineligibility or Disqualification.
Find more information in Fact Sheet 167, Protecting Your Business and Your Employees from Identity Theft online at Michigan.gov/uia. Information for employees is also available in Fact Sheet 166, Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft.