BALTIMORE — Unemployment fraud continues to be an issue for the Maryland Department of Labor, and it’s also impacting local businesses.
Instead of focusing on rebuilding, Carola Strolger, owner of Clean Happy with Carola, has been trying to get the attention of the Department.
In the last several months, she’s received dozens of fraudulent separation notices filed against her business. And she worries any claims that aren’t flagged will raise her tax rate.
“I got seven more to send back right now,” said Strolger.
The letters from the Maryland Department of Labor state records indicate the claimant was employed with Strolger in the last 18 months. However, Strolger doesn’t recognize the names and her team is made up of just four people.
“How many total do you think you’ve received of fraudulent requests?” asked WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii.
“I think plus 50, around 50 or so,” Strolger responded.
And every time she gets a fake claim, she tries to tell the Department.
“I never get through to somebody. Period,” said Strolger.
She then fills out the paperwork on the back of each claim and mails it back to the agency.
“In each letter I took the time to put a bright pink sticky note with ‘please call me, somebody call me,’ asking for help pretty much and no one of course has contacted me or replied to my emails or anything,” Strolger said.
The scanning, emailing, writing, and calling has cut into her time trying to regrow her business.
“You cannot just press 1, 2, 3, 4, you know, the options, you have to listen to the whole message otherwise you cannot go through. So between the time I dial and the point I need to get through it’s about 7-9 minutes and then they say, ‘Sorry we can’t take your call right now,’ so making three calls it’s already 35 minutes trying to make a phone call,” said Strolger.
WMAR-2 News brought this to the attention of the Department and they’re now working to block all the claims, but Strolger still can’t figure out why her business has become a target. She can only think it’s from her recent job postings.
“I think I got over 100 people that applied for the job,” said Strolger. “They asked me oh yah, I’m going to show for the interview, give me the name of the manager and the address and the business name. So, I did of course. I rented a place to do interview, one person showed up. One.”
Fallon Pearre, director of communications with the Department, said so far, they’ve received 24 separation notices from Strolger for claims that have been confirmed as fraudulent and blocked.
Sofastaii has heard from a handful of other businesses with this same issue.
Pearre added that employers will not be charged for fraudulent claims and all employers should carefully review current and previous benefit charge statements to ensure all benefits charged to their accounts are accurate.
Reporting Fraudulent Separation Notices
In addition to emailing the email@example.com email and calling the employer call Center at 410-949-0033, employers can also report receiving a fraudulent request for separation notice directly in their BEACON portal. Instructions are outlined on the notice that employers receive. If the claimant on the separation notice has never worked at the business, the employer can select the “Never Employed Here” option and the claim will be flagged. If the claimant on the separation notice is still working at the business, but has had a fraudulent claim filed in their name, the employer should select the “Still Working Full time” option and the claim will be flagged.