Help me stay out of jail!
December 10, 2011 10:58 AM Subscribe
I've unintentionally committed unemployment fraud. Now what?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was laid off from my job in June. I started collecting unemployment benefits in July. (This is in New York State in the US.) Since then, I've started a small retail business online. According to the Claimant Handbook available on the unemployment insurance website (which I didn't notice/find until a few weeks ago -- my bad, MeFi) this means I have committed unemployment fraud -- even though I have yet to earn a penny from my new business.
"If you are involved in free-lance work, self-employment, starting a business or doing “favors” for another business, you should call the Telephone Claims Center and give all details BEFORE claiming benefits"
"In all cases of fraud, we can impose civil penalties or fines. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, the penalties are a fine up to $500 or up to a year in jail or both. The felony
conviction carries an even longer jail sentence."
I am freaked out of my mind. I've tried to contact the Telephone Claims Center but there's literally no way to speak to a human via that number. So, my areas of concern, in order of importance to me, are:
1. Who do I need to speak to about this?
2. Should I just stop claiming unemployment immediately? I have no other source of income, no savings at all, and my field is incredibly difficult to find work in, much less *immediate* work. Unemployment is currently my only source of income.
3. I've spent a substantial sum of money on expenses related to my new business expecting that I would be able to write it off on my 2011 taxes. If I do claim these expenses, I expect my chances of being audited will skyrocket. Is that true? What should I do?
Thank you, MeFi. I know you are not employment lawyers or tax accountants but I am grateful for your advice.