TRENTON – Lawmakers from a Shore-area district say they’ve been getting an increased number of requests for help from residents who are victims of unemployment fraud.

The 9th District delegation – Sen. Christopher Connors, Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, and Assemblywoman Brian Rumpf, all R-Ocean – wrote to Gov. Phil Murphy urging him to devote more resources to preventing fraud attempts.

“The majority of these constituents have not filed for unemployment themselves, but have had someone file for unemployment fraudulently under their name,” they wrote.

Unemployment fraud has been a rampant problem nationwide during the pandemic, as infusions of supplemental federal aid and an effort to get benefits in people’s hands faster made the money an attractive target.

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Earlier this month, Wayne said 26 township employees, including three retirees, had their identities stolen and used to file unemployment claims.

The federal Labor Department’s inspector general has estimated that $87 billion in unemployment benefits during the pandemic may have been paid improperly, most due to fraud. Last week, the department announced it will give states $240 million to modernize their systems to address fraud.

The state added an identity verification step to its process in March through a company called ID.me, which verifies a person’s identity when they first apply for benefits or change information about their bank account or mailing address. Steps include a selfie compared to a driver’s license photo or passport.

The state also has four ways for people to report suspected unemployment fraud: by phone at 609-777-4304; by fax at 609-292-5593; by mail at Benefit Payment Control, PO Box 043, Trenton NJ 08625; or online by filling out a form on the labor department website.

“However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these efforts are not sufficient, inasmuch as unemployment fraud cases certainly appear to be on the rise,” Connors, Gove, and Rumpf wrote.

The 9th District includes 19 towns in southern Ocean County; Bass River, Tabernacle, and Washington townships in Burlington County; and Galloway Township and Port Republic in Atlantic County.

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