“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 6/12/20
According to Montana Public Radio, Montana has doled out over $10 million in potentially fraudulent COVID-19-related unemployment claims since April 28, with scammers using stolen identification information to apply for benefits. The number pales in comparison to the $220 million in fraudulent claims stopped, but the total sum underscores the scope of the issue. In response, the U.S. Department of Labor and Industry has implemented additional verification measures to combat the national unemployment fraud scheme, though this may now delay the fulfillment of legitimate claims. “New applications for unemployment benefits in the state declined last week, but the number of new applications was more than twice as high as the same week a year ago,” MTPR reports, adding that as of May 30, nearly 45,000 residents were receiving unemployment benefits—9.9 percent of all eligible employees in the state—and that Montana has processed 111,644 claims for unemployment since March 14 for a population that represents 24.5 percent of the state’s workforce that is eligible for the unemployment insurance.