Good news! Governor Snyder has signed a series of bills being pushed by the Michigan Chamber to overhaul operations at the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) and head off identity theft.
The seven-bill package was supported by business and labor and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. House Bills 5165-5172, now Public Acts 225-232 of 2017, would:
Address UI identity theft – The legislation would mandate the UIA create new firewalls during the claim application process to prevent the fraudulent claims from ever being filed. The legislation would dramatically strengthen the UIA’s identity verification processes and arm the UIA with better information to verify a claimant’s identity, including driver’s license or state identification numbers, I-9 documentation and the employer’s federal ID number. The legislation requires UIA to verify a claimant’s identity before making a payment on the claim. This reform is long overdue.
Protect employers and innocent employees who are victims of identity theft – With the goal of protecting employers and innocent employees who have fraudulent claims filed using their name and social security number, the legislation would prevent benefit payments from being issued to an imposter and would require the UIA to issue a formal determination indicating the claim was fraudulent and, thus, null and void. Specifically, the bill would allow an employer to file a report about the imposter claim to begin a UIA investigation. Alternatively, an affected employee would be able to file an affidavit attesting that he or she did not file the claim and that action would initiate a UIA investigation. If both an employer report and an affected employee affidavit are submitted on the same claim, the UIA would be able to stop all payments and nullify the claim. All interested parties would be required to be kept informed throughout the process.
Make other miscellaneous changes - Other bills in the package address the assessment of interest on claimants who owe money the UIA, a reduction in the monetary penalties for UI fraud and requirements that employers and claimants keep their addresses up-to-date with the UIA.
Please note: Many Chamber members reported a large uptick in the number of fraudulent claims being filed in late 2017. If your company needs help navigating the UI system or getting an answer from the UIA, please contact Wendy Block at firstname.lastname@example.org.