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NJ State Government Actually Leads The Nation In Something Good [AUDIO]

If you have a job in the Garden State, you are paying into New Jersey’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund. That fund is used to pay benefits to the unemployed who are eligible.

Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images

For all intents and purposes, if someone is fraudulently collecting UI checks, they are stealing from you. There’s good news though. New Jersey is actually tops in the nation in catching these cheats.

“Until this administration came in, the response to the overwhelming number of Unemployment Insurance claims was to pay them, by check, and worry about accountability later,” explains Department of Labor and Workforce Development deputy commissioner Aaron Fichtner. “That has ended.”

Fichtner says from day-one the idea was to tackle the fraud and waste that was bleeding the Trust Fund of millions of dollars a year. The first step was the Debit Card, as a means of delivering unemployment insurance benefits. It offers a faster, more secure and cheaper means of getting paid. It also saves the unemployment insurance system between $7 million and $8 million annually in processing and mailing costs.

“We have saved more than $153 million from going into the hands of cheats since we launched our first major anti-fraud program in March 2011,” explains Fichtner.

New Jersey leads the nation in stopping what the United States Department of Labor identifies as the most common cause of fraud nationwide: people continuing to file UI claims after they have returned to work.

Fichtner says, “We are catching up to 2,000 people each week who were filing for benefits after they went back to work.”

Just after March 2011, the Department began cross matching Unemployment Insurance rolls against the National Directory of New Hires, to which employers must report people they add to their payrolls.

Earlier this year, the Department also began using a piece of software that helps identify cheats from foreign nations who are trying to file Unemployment Insurance claims through the Internet. Since installing the software in April, at a cost of just $1,600, the Department has stopped more than $18 million from being paid out to those criminals, but Fichtner says more innovation is on the way.

“Now, we are launching a new Unemployment Insurance Fraud Identity Proofing program designed to catch the criminal imposters who would file phony claims by using stolen identities,” explains Fichtner. “With just a couple of questions posed as someone tries to process a new claim, we will be able to quickly ward off would-be scammers.”

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