With ongoing economic struggles in California, unemployment insurance is a benefit that more and more people are glad to have as a safety net. There are a number of ways that recipients can misuse this benefit in both intentional and non-intentional manners.
The California Employment Development Department is the agency that administers the state’s unemployment insurance program. According to the agency, providing false information and not reporting certain information are both considered fraud, and significant penalties may result.
Working at another job while collecting benefits and failing to report your work to the EDD is a typical form of fraud. Wages of any type, including from part-time and temporary employment, must be reported, along with any other kind of compensation, including pension and workers’ compensation payments.
Supplying a fake name and social security number to continue working while receiving benefits under a different name is another type of fraud. In this case, you may also be subject to charges of identity theft. Additional forms of fraud include:
- Living in California while filing for benefits in another state
- Listing a fictitious employer and claiming that you are an employee
- Cashing another person’s unemployment benefits check without consent
- Filing false information about your efforts to find work
- Lying about the reason you are unemployed
Penalties for committing unemployment insurance fraud range from jail and prison sentences to penalties and fines, as well as being required to repay benefits. Your income tax refunds may also be forfeited, and you could lose the right to collect future benefits as well.
To avoid fraud, always report your gross wages for the week you work and not when you actually receive payment. Keep a record of daily work and wages earned so you will not unintentionally misreport earnings, and if you think you may have made an error, contact EDD as soon as possible.