LARNED — Widespread unemployment fraud continues to be an issue throughout Kansas and Larned is no exception. An employee at Fort Larned USD 495 reports more than 120 fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed in recent weeks. The Pawnee County Co-op has also seen fraudulent claims filed on employees who are employed.
According to the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL), fraudulent claims are being filed using the names and personal information of people who have not lost their jobs.
People are often unaware a claim has been made on their behalf until they receive a determination notice in the mail from KDOL or until their employer receives a notice to verify the employee’s status. A review of these fraudulent claims indicates that scammers are finding personal information through incidents like credit card data breaches and then using that information to illegally attempt to collect unemployment.
“This is a serious issue and we are remaining vigilant to address it and protect our employees,” said Jean Simmons, USD 495 Finance Director. According to Simmons, the school district has received a little more than 120 fraudulent claims filed in the last two and a half to three month period. A bulk of those fraudulent claims have come within the last 30 to 40 days.
“That’s over 50% of our workforce,” said Simmons. She added that the problem is not exclusive to USD 495 and that everyone should be on alert.
“We’ve had six to seven employees receive letters that they have filed unemployment claims, which they have not,” said Kim Barnes, Chief Financial Officer at the Pawnee County Co-op. “I and another employee received 1099-G forms over unemployment compensation that we have not applied for.”
The 1099-G form is used by government agencies to report payments made to businesses or individuals to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This does not include wages. The most common use is to report unemployment compensation or tax refunds.
Individuals who suspect they might be a victim of unemployment fraud are urged to notify their employer immediately. A website to report fraudulent claims is also available at www.reportfraud.ks.gov.