N.J. gets tough on unemployment insurance fraud

New Jersey is expanding its efforts to combat unemployment insurance fraud.

A new program called “Identity Proofing” requires people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits to answer multiple-choice questions.

New Jersey Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths says information obtained from public records, such as relatives’ names and automobile ownership, will allow the state to determine if identity thieves are trying to file phony claims.

“We’re never going to stop it all. That’s being naive but we’re going to make it very, very difficult. So anyone … committing fraud, I’d advise you to stop certifying that check because we’re going to get you,” Wirths said Tuesday. “We may already have you. You may not even know that we have you but in the next couple weeks you’ll find out that we have you.”

Wirths says by preventing fraud, the state is hoping to save more than the $2.75 million it’s paying for the three-year contract with the company that operates the program.

Anyone who doesn’t pass the verification process will have to show ID at a regional Labor Department office to get their unemployment benefits.

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