When you are out of work, it can be a struggle to make ends meet. Your unemployment benefits are valuable lifeline for people during these times.

For those seeking benefits or afraid of losing benefits, it can be tempting to bend the truth, but be warned. Lying to the New York Department of Labor to collect unemployment insurance benefits is considered fraud.

Unemployment fraud, carries severe penalties. The state of New York investigates unemployment fraud aggressively and is relentless in its efforts to recover money.

Common forms of unemployment fraud

There are several ways to commit unemployment insurance benefits fraud:

  • Providing false information on your benefits application
  • Working while collecting insurance benefits and submitting inaccurate reports
  • Not being willing to work when you are able
  • Collaborating with another person to obtain unemployment benefits
  • Using a false identity to file claims for benefits

The bottom line is that if you lie on your application for unemployment benefits, misreport income, fail to look for gainful employment while receiving benefits or use another person’s identity to obtain benefits, you can face arrest and prosecution for fraud.

Future consequences

A conviction will go on your record, and that may affect your ability to find work in the future. For example, it may disqualify you from any sort of government job. In addition, keep in mind that it is routine these days for an employer to perform a background check on prospective employees. When your conviction for fraud turns up in the search, an employer may turn you down for the position you wanted. Fraud is another word for deceit, and employers want to hire candidates they believe are trustworthy.

What to expect

A criminal defense attorney sees cases of fraud like yours every day. You may face criminal as well as civil charges, but the penalties will depend on the severity of your crime and whether you already have a criminal record. For one thing, you will have to repay all the money you fraudulently took from the state, and you should know that a debt to the government takes precedence over every other kind of debt you might have.