AUGUSTA — For the week ending July 18, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 2,200 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 1,600 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), per a news release. These claims represent about 2,300 individuals filing an initial claim.
About 59,900 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 25,000 weekly certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Between March 15 and July 18, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.17 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019.
The Department has handled approximately 174,600 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 81,900 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been about 1.77 million weekly certifications filed.
Claims data is preliminary and subject to revision.
During the week ending July 18, the Department cancelled about 1,300 initial claims and 195 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.
To date, the Department has received about 20,000 unique reports of unemployment imposter fraud. This number does not include the duplicate reports that had been included in previous weeks. The Department has also reinstated almost 15,000 claims to legitimate claimants that had been flagged for potential fraud.
Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person’s Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.
The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employee’s personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft.
The investigation is ongoing, and new incidences of potential fraud are identified every day.
Those whose claims were cancelled for suspected fraud or whose claim has been flagged for potential fraud (showing a paid date of 9/9/9999), must verify their identity in order to reinstate the claim. To do so, claimants should go online to the ReEmployME homepage at https://reemployme.maine.gov and follow the below directions:
Select “Upload Documents for Identity Verification” located just above the login link and provide the following: two forms of identification (scans or photos are okay), one of which must be a government issued photo ID.
Government issued photo ID’s are driver’s license, passport, military ID, federal or state employee ID.
Non-photo documentation could include a recent utility bill that shows your name and residential address, Social Security card and birth certificate.