Senate adopts Runestad amendment to fight unemployment fraud

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate this week adopted an amendment to the fiscal year 2022 budget sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad that would protect Michigan’s unemployment insurance system by providing legal assistance to fight fraud attacks.

“When Michiganders were laid off and needed help the most, criminals stole more than a billion in unemployment benefits,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “These criminals stole the identities of Michigan residents, generating false tax bills and legal costs for those who were affected, while others were falsely accused and unable to get benefits they desperately needed.”

Runestad’s amendment to the general government budget, Senate Bill 82, would provide legal guidance and assistance to individuals who have been affected by denial of unemployment insurance agency benefits due to false accusations of fraud.

In addition, the UIA would be required to submit a report to the House and Senate appropriations committees by Dec. 31, 2021 on the number of individuals the attorney general has determined were affected by denial of unemployment insurance benefits due to false accusations of fraud.

“We’ve found out that over the last year, the Unemployment Insurance Agency had actually relaxed certain fraud protection policies,” Runestad added. “This has resulted in about 100,000 likely fraudulent unemployment claims being filed in Michigan and up to an estimated $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars being sent to criminals.

“Fraudulent claims continue to hit the Unemployment Insurance Agency, which only slows payments for those who desperately need it. We can’t let that stand.”

The general government budget has been sent to the Michigan House for further consideration.

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