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State unveils Web tools aimed to curb unemployment abuse

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The Indiana Department of Workforce Development on Wednesday debuted a pair of tools aimed at cracking down on unemployment insurance fraud.

Improper unemployment insurance claims have contributed to the state’s massive Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt, which now tops $1.8 billion. Indiana has been borrowing heavily from the federal government during the recession to pay unemployment benefits. In 2009, DWD identified $3.9 million in unemployment fraud.

According to a news release, businesses can now more easily challenge unemployment insurance claims from employees who quit or are fired for cause or misconduct. To begin the process, Unemployment Benefit Protest Form 640P can now be downloaded at www.in.gov/dwd/2353.html. Once a formal protest is filed, DWD will contact both the employer and the former employee to gather more information for an eligibility ruling.

DWD also has unveiled a Web site for anonymous tips about unemployment insurance fraud. The site www.in.gov/dwd/fraud allows individuals or businesses to report people they suspect are improperly collecting unemployment benefits.

Some of the most common forms of unemployment insurance fraud include continuing to collect benefits after turning down a qualified job offer; collecting benefits while also working full-time; accepting cash payments for work to avoid reporting income; and falsifying or failing to report hours and wages earned while collecting unemployment.

DWD said it investigates all fraud claims. Individuals who commit unemployment insurance fraud may be required to repay their benefits plus penalties and interest, forfeit future benefits and face criminal charges.

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