Unemployed in Texas? Do you know you might not be getting any benefit checks after May 2007? That’s not such a big deal, though.
Beginning in May, Texas unemployment benefits will be disbursed with Visa debit cards backed financially by the Chase Bank system. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has chosen to distribute unemployment insurance (UI) benefits using a card that will be referred to as a TWC UI Debit Card. The first phase of the card distributions begins in May, when Chase Bank will begin mailing Visa debit cards to recipients newly qualified for UI benefits.
Your Texas unemployment benefits card will work just like a debit card from any bank account. You can use it at any cash register that takes Visa debit cards to make purchases and receive cash from your account. It will work with automatic teller machines (ATMs) to make withdrawals and to check account balances.
Once qualified to receive benefits, all you have to do is wait for your welcome packet from Chase Bank. Your welcome packet will contain your Visa debit card and instructions on how to activate it and how to use it correctly. Once activated, you have safe, secure access to your funds round the clock.
Your Chase Bank welcome packet also outlines the fee structure for any fees you might be assessed when using your card. Most fees incur when using an ATM not in the Chase Bank ATM system. Withdrawals using ATMs out of the Chase system are free for the first withdrawal within a benefit deposit period but will cost $1.50 each after that.
Another fee you may encounter is a $0.50 fee per transaction when account balance inquiries are made using an ATM outside the Chase Bank system. To keep track without spending money, you can call Chase’s toll free number or log onto your account at their website. Both the telephone inquiry and web account service are free to the Texas unemployment benefit recipient.
You can even use your TWC UI Debit Card at the teller windows in any Chase Bank building. Just present your card to the teller and complete any paperwork necessary to withdraw cash from you account, just as if you had a checking account there. This person-to-person teller service is allowed at no charge once per deposit period but will cost $5.00 per transaction after that.
With the ease, convenience, and security that comes with using your Visa debit card for your Texas unemployment benefits, who needs an old-fashioned paper check anyway?
A number of successful prosecutions have been reported in Texas unemployment insurance fraud, totaling almost $1.16 million. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, or TWC, criminal prosecutions for unemployment insurance fraud are pursued aggressively. This resulted in 411 convictions for fraudulent claims in 2006.
The prosecutions for Texas unemployment insurance fraud range across the state, from El Paso to Austin and Corpus Christi to the panhandle. In Brazoria County, a woman received a 4-year sentence on a felony theft charge for unemployment fraud. She was also ordered to repay $4,776, plus court costs.
The TWC’s enforcement division doesn’t stop at enforcing the laws against Texas unemployment insurance fraud, either. They also enforce the laws regarding waste and abuse. The division has made fraud, abuse and theft prevention, detection and elimination a top priority for 2007. They vigorously enforce all the applicable laws, making sure that anyone who claims unemployment insurance in Texas is legally entitled to it.
TWC administers unemployment benefits to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. In order to qualify, a worker must be actively seeking work. Through TWC’s Fraud Detection Department, a section of the Program Integrity Division, TWC regularly cross checks UI claims with employer wage reports and other databases to detect unemployment insurance fraud.
Examples of UI fraud include giving false information and failure to report self-employment or other earnings while receiving unemployment benefits. When TWC discovers that claimants have received unemployment benefits through fraudulent applications, the agency seeks immediate reimbursement of overpayments.
Once fraud is detected, criminal charges, including felony charges are pursued with the appropriate state district attorney’s office. Conviction on a charge of unemployment insurance fraud often results in incarceration and almost always includes restitution. In addition, convicted offenders must pay court costs and fines, often greatly increasing the amount due. They usually must also perform community service as a part of their sentence.
Here are a few more entries from the “crime doesn’t pay” file. A number of successful prosecutions have been reported in Texas unemployment insurance fraud, totaling $1.15 million.
If you’re a worker in Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission or TWC wants you to know that it prosecutes anyone who claims unemployment benefits that they aren’t entitled to. In the TWC’s words, “criminal prosecutions for unemployment insurance fraud are pursued aggressively.” This resulted in a total of 411 convictions for fraudulent claims in 2006, resulting in repayment of almost $1.16 million.
The prosecutions for Texas unemployment insurance fraud range across the Lone Star State. Here are just some examples. In Harris County, a man was convicted to two years on the charge of state felony theft for collecting $5,304 in unemployment benefits while working. He was also ordered to perform 120 hours of community service, and must attend an anti-theft program.
Also in Harris County, a women received three years on the charge of state jail felony theft. She repaid $5,780 plus a $500 fine. Additionally, she must complete 120 hours of community service. A second Harris County women received 5 years for state jail felony theft, and must pay $12,172 in restitution, plus performing 200 hours of community service. In addition, she was ordered to complete a Cognitive and Life Skills Course that addresses theft and welfare fraud. She is also ordered to complete a consumer credit counseling program, and write a letter of apology. The women is disqualified from receiving welfare benefits for 5 years.
A Harris County man received 3 years probation on a felony charge of theft, and was ordered to repay $4,428 and a $250 fine. The man reportedly spent his take on casino gambling. He was not entitled to unemployment because he was working as a truck driver at the time.
Here are a few more entries from the “crime doesn’t pay” file.
A number of successful prosecutions have been reported in Texas unemployment insurance fraud, totaling almost $1.16 million. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, or TWC, criminal prosecutions for unemployment insurance fraud are pursued aggressively. This resulted in a total of 411 convictions for fraudulent claims in 2006.
The prosecutions for Texas unemployment insurance fraud range across the state. In Dallas County, a man recently received 5 years on a felony charge of securing execution of document by deception, or fraud in everyday language. He was ordered to pay over $6,000 in restitution plus a $300 fine. Another man received 6 months of probation on a Class A misdemeanor theft charge, even though he had already repaid the $3,882 he illegally collected. He was ordered to pay an additional $500 fine.
Another Dallas County man received a sentence of 2 years on a misdemeanor charge of securing execution of a document by deception. HE was ordered to repay $4,133.34, plus a $500 fine. Additionally, a woman received a sentence of 4 years on a felony theft charge and was ordered to pay more than $3,000 in restitution.
Illiteracy is no excuse for committing fraud, according to the TWC. One Brazoria County man claimed that he couldn’t get a good job because he couldn’t read. He insisted that was the only reason he collected unemployment fraudulently. That argument didn’t work with the judge, and he was sentenced to 5 years, ordered to pay $13,958 in restitution, and perform 180 hours of community service. He was also ordered to complete classes addressing theft, take an Adult Placement indicator Test and participate in any recommended literacy programs. To add insult to injury, the man was ordered to pay a $50 fee to Crime Stoppers, to reimburse them for the tip that landed him in hot water.
Workers in the beleaguered Texas Rio Grande Valley will get a break with a recent Texas workers grant. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao recently announced that the troubled area of the state will receive $5 million of a total $45 million grant to retrain workers.
“Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. “This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.”
The grant, aimed at easing Texas unemployment in the Rio Grande area, was made under the WIRED program. The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development program, also called WIRED, is an effort by the U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration to help struggling regional economies.
Under the WIRED program, the region will use the Texas unemployment grant to improve the area economy by training employees. The U. S. Department of Labor recently announced that thousands of Texas workers would be among those to benefit from a grant of more than $65 million. WIRED works to integrate economic and workforce development activities and demonstrate that talent development can create economic transformation in regional economies across the United States.
The WIRED initiative has already demonstrated its success. The first round of WIRED grants in 2005 awarded $195 million to 13 regions. The grants are awarded based on a competition involving the state governors.
According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco, “Strong regional economies that are built on maximizing talent and innovation will be crucial to the nation’s success in the global economy.”
The grant includes an initial award of $500,000. After a regional implementation blueprint is finished, the region will then have access to an additional $4.5 million grant. The Texas unemployment grant will benefit workers in the Rio Grande Valley.