MONTGOMERY, Ala. – While the number of initial unemployment claims seems to be on the decline. The Alabama Department of Labor says the number of continued claims has remained steady since August.
“Last week there were approximately 8600 initial claims filed,” explained ADOL Spokeswoman Tara Hutchinson. “Last week we paid over 154,000 people. That number has stayed sort of consistent over the past couple weeks.”
But the FBI says there’s been an uptick in fraudulent unemployment claims across the country since the pandemic began.
ADOL confirmed some of that data is based in Alabama.
“We anticipate at least 55,000 fraudulent claims have been detected here,” said Hutchinson.
The department says unusual unemployment options, like the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, could be a reason for that.
“The PUA program is a brand new program is for those who don’t normally qualify for benefits,” Hutchinson explained. “A part of this program is that the claimants have to self-certify.”
The FBI says another factor is scammers are using stolen identities to file unemployment claims.
While ADOL says about some fraudulent claims have been detected, there may be some that have successfully outsmarted the system.
But the department says it has plans for those individuals if they’re caught.
“We’re going to press charges, we are definitely going to press charges,” Hutchinson added. “We’re working with both federal and state authorities. So the charges could come from a federal level, a state level or a local level.”