NC lawmakers meet on unemployment fraud prevention

Posted April 3, 2012 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2012 4:07 p.m. EDT

NC General Assembly 4x3

— North Carolina House members want to know how to better discourage people from trying to obtain unemployment benefits unlawfully.

In the first meeting of the House Unemployment Fraud Task Force on Tuesday, officials said fraudulent applications in 2011 totaled about $18 million, which was more than double the total in 2006, before the recession hit.

Division of Employment Security leaders say they're taking extra steps to find and reject bad claims. But the state still paid out about $12 million last year for fraudulent claims, which was about 2.5 percent of all benefits.

An audit by the U.S. Labor Department found that North Carolina overpaid jobless benefits by $534 million from 2008 to 2011. State officials said about 45 percent of the overpayments were because of fraud, with people collecting benefits after they had found a job and returned to work. Another 34 percent occurred because businesses didn't submit the proper information about former employees.

House Speaker Thom Tillis created the task force a month ago to gather recommendations before the full General Assembly reconvenes for its budget-adjusting session in May. Committee members also want to find ways to make the new Division of Employment Security run more efficiently than its predecessor.