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Identity theft is a major concern for both the private and public sectors. Recently, several of our clients have reported unknown individuals filing fraudulent unemployment claims in an attempt to obtain unemployment benefits in the name of current employees. This is not only a local, but a nationwide issue. Michigan’s unemployment compensation agency has recently updated its Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) to make it easier for employers to report and provide information to the unemployment compensation agency when identity theft is suspected. Employers should complete the “Monetary Protest/Appeal” page on the MiWAM page and indicate “yes” when prompted if the protest is related to ID theft.
However, one of the most important things employers can do to protect themselves and their employees is to prevent improper payments from happening in the first instance. Thus, it is important that if you receive a Monetary Determination (Form UIA 1575E) which contains inaccurate information or if the referenced employee is still working for you, you should confer with the employee (who may need to take steps individually to protect against identity theft) and immediately protest the Monetary Determination through MiWAM. An employer only has ten (10) days to respond to a Monetary Determination. Failure to meet this deadline could result in payments commencing to unknown individuals with recovery from them for the improper payments next to impossible.
Thus, it is important to advise your HR Department to be on the lookout for these types of fraudulent claims and to respond promptly to them. If you are faced with such a claim, employees should go to https://www.identitytheft.gov/ which will provide step-by-step instructions on how to proceed, including: filing a police report, filing an identity theft complaint with the FTC, checking their credit history, and putting a credit report fraud alert with one of the three (3) credit reporting agencies. Employers should also be diligent in timely responding to inquiries from Michigan’s unemployment compensation agency.