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Jan-10-2008 10:13printcomments

Oregon Implements Increased Penalties for Unemployment Fraud

Construction employee art Business Report

(SALEM, Ore.) - A new law and administrative rule increasing the penalties for unemployment insurance fraud has gone into effect as of the first of the year.

ORS 657.215.310 and OAR 471-030-0052 give the Oregon Employment Department the authority to impose the following penalties:

For any fraud committed after January 1st 2008, the Employment Department now has the authority to impose a monetary penalty equal to 15% of the amount fraudulently collected. For example if a person receives $2,000 in fraudulent unemployment benefits, in addition to repaying the $2,000, a fine of $300 will be assessed.

The maximum amount of time these misrepresentation decisions remain in effect was also increased from three to five years. This means any person who is found guilty of unemployment fraud may not receive benefits for up to five years, or until they have served the number of penalty weeks assessed, whichever comes first.

Unemployment insurance fraud occurs mostly when an individual misrepresents their work or earnings. In most cases this means they are working and earning money while simultaneously claiming unemployment benefits.

Employers report the names, social security numbers and earnings of all their employees to the Employment Department, as required by law. The department’s computer system searches this wage information to discover if anyone worked while claiming benefits. The computer system also checks wages earned in other states against Oregon benefits paid to ensure people report their earnings correctly. The Oregon Employment Department aggressively pursues any incident of fraud and prosecutes accordingly.

Each year the Employment Department recovers more than six million dollars of fraudulently collected unemployment insurance benefits, and returns it to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.

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