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Labor and Economic Opportunity

UIA teams up with U.S. Department of Labor to fight unemployment claim fraud

Tiger Team will also provide guidance to address case backlog, equitable access, IT modernization

January 12, 2022

Media Contact: Nick Assendelft, 517-388-3135

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) announced today it is joining a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) initiative that will analyze challenges at the agency and recommend resources or processes to address fraud, case backlog, equity and system modernization.

UIA identified the DOL Tiger Team collaboration as a key opportunity to supplement its holistic approach to fighting fraud. Michigan was accepted as one of the first 18 states to participate in the program. The team of multi-disciplinary experts will develop recommendations that can be implemented in the near term and provide technical assistance that will have a lasting impact on UIA's claims processing.

"This will be an important tool in our arsenal for our continued fight against fraud," said Julia Dale, UIA Director. "Fraud won't be tolerated and UIA will do everything that it can to identify bad actors and bring them to justice."

The main goals of the Tiger Team national initiative is to prevent, detect and recover funds from fraud; promote equitable access; ensure the timely payment of benefits; and reduce workload backlogs.

"We appreciate state officials in Michigan for their ongoing efforts in combatting fraud during the administration of the CARES Act and other pandemic programs while handling the largest surge of unemployment insurance claims in history," said Rose Zibert, Acting Regional Administrator at the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. "Through our collaborative efforts, we will continue to reduce the risk of fraud and improve equitable access to these much-needed programs."

DOL Tiger Team experts will work closely with UIA staff to understand agency limitations that were magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the ability of criminals to take advantage of system weaknesses to steal benefits. The Tiger Team will develop recommendations that will have near-term positive impacts in each focus area. The solutions may include activities such as workflow adjustments, process improvements, technology updates, and/or revising communication.

"We look forward to leveraging DOL's deep expertise as we build on efforts to assure everyone has equitable access to the services we provide, improve the way we interact with customers and identify new technology that will allow us to better meet our customers' needs," Dale said.

Funding for the Tiger Teams comes from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The collaboration with DOL will be a significant resource in UIA's continuing efforts to identify and stop fraudulent claims. The Agency identified more than 10,000 claims over the recent holidays that were likely filed by bad actors and payments were blocked.

UIA will be an integral part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Unemployment Insurance Fraud Response Team, which solidifies the coordination among state departments and law enforcement partners to identify, investigate and prosecute those accused of filing fraudulent UI claims.

UIA is also collaborating with DOL and the National Association of State Workforce Agency (NASWA) to track trends and emerging fraud schemes perpetrated by multi-state criminal enterprises. Michigan was one of the first states to join NASWA's Integrity Data Hub, which identifies foreign IP addresses, suspicious email domains, multi-state claims and other tip-offs to fraud.

A process is underway to choose a new operating system that will be agile, robust and secure to allow for quicker response to economic changes and provide more internal control over touchpoints with customers. The new system is expected to include the latest technology and processes to quickly identify fraudulent claims.

The What is Fraud webpage details how UIA leverages its resources to identify and combat fraud.