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January 24, 2011 7:35 PM   Subscribe

CA EDD (unemployment) thinks I committed fraud because I somehow didn't tell them about being out of town for the holidays correctly. How bad is this??

I'm freaking out. My UI benefits are BS-tiny anyway and I'm really wishing I had just canceled the whole thing months ago because it pays practically nothing and is hardly worth the headache.

Long story short, I went on vacation out of state for two weeks over the holidays to visit family. Very boring. Very normal. However, there is apparently NO way to tell EDD about this. I know I filled out the first form with a note saying I was out of town for two days, and I *think* I filled out the second saying I was unavailable for work, but I suppose it's possible I got confused about all the forms and messed up (since they are always like 2 weeks out of sync). Anyway, they called me for an interview about the whole thing last week, I told them the dates I was out of town, was totally open about my TOTALLY NORMAL, BORING TRIP and now they are slapping me with this.

I don't care if I have to repay the money (about $100), but I am really freaked out about being branded fraudulent. I wasn't trying to be fraudulent! I was trying to visit my family! I filled out the appeals form, and am waiting until the office reopens tomorrow to phone them and try and talk to someone, but I'm just really shaken up.

Is this really that bad? Can I just repay the money they want and this will go away? Or should I seriously pursue the appeal to get the fraud charge removed? It's not about the money for me, more about my honor, if you will. This is in California.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Our web site has fact sheets on UI, and you can call our Workers Rights Clinic.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:03 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

You should consider whether, when you were out of town, you continued to look for work, networked with people you were visiting, read employment listings, put the word out about your availability, worked on your resume, or anything else that would show you were looking for work. You should also consider whether, had you been called for work, you would have been able to return to take the job. For example, perhaps, although you were out of town, you were checking your email and voice mail and continuing to look for work and network, and, had you received word of an employment opening, you knew you could be back on a plane for the next day. I don't know where you are, but this matters in my jurisdiction.
posted by acoutu at 10:02 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with acoutu, did you attend any seminars while there? Network with potential employers, "pounding the pavement", handing out resumes? These factors may have some influence.
posted by 6:1 at 2:51 AM on January 25, 2011

If you can't show that you were doing any of the things that acoutu details, then yes, you were on vacation and not looking for work. Keeping the money would be fraud. Giving the money back removes the fraud and there is no brand of fraud on your name.
posted by gjc at 5:51 AM on January 25, 2011

OP is not trying to retain the money, folks - OP is perfectly happy to return it, but does not want to incur criminal responsibility as a result of a mere clerical error. It's not just a matter of honor, it could impact a person's credit report, employability, ability to get a security clearance, and what-all else.

OP, what did the EDD 'slap' you with? did they send you a customized letter, in which case can you tell us what it says? Or is it a standardized document with something like 'ED-666: Notice of Impending Doom' at the top? In short, exactly how did they bring up the f-word here? The reason I ask is that more than likely they are warning you about the potential consequences rather than having made a finding already, but there is no way to tell from your capsule summary.

If they told you this over the phone, can you mention which forms you filled out (in the 3rd paragraph)?

I'm not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:58 PM on January 25, 2011

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