New penalties to take effect for jobless fraud

COLUMBUS – Starting Oct. 21, new penalties will take effect for people who file fraudulent unemployment claims and for employers whose inaction leads to benefits being paid in error.

According to a release from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, under the current law claimants who commit fraud are required to repay amounts they weren’t entitled to and forgo benefits for a period of time.

Under new laws passed in June, they now will be fined 25 percent of the total amount collected fraudulently.

“Ohio wants to send a clear message to claimants who are considering fraud: Don’t do it,” said Michael Colbert, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. “We have state-of-the-art fraud detection tools, and we will catch you. When we do, the penalties are substantial.”

In addition, the law requires ODJFS to charge employers who repeatedly fail to respond to requests for information about an unemployment compensation claimant.

To be eligible for unemployment compensation, individuals must have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. When they apply for unemployment compensation, ODJFS checks with their former employers to determine the reason for their unemployment, the release states. If employers fail to provide necessary information by the deadline, benefits may be incorrectly awarded.

Under the new law, employers who repeatedly fail to provide needed information on time may face higher taxes if benefits are paid in error, according to the release.