12 Responds: If I didn’t apply for unemployment, why did I get a letter saying I’m eligible?

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — We’re months into the pandemic and still hearing from people asking whether they qualify for unemployment benefits, how to apply, and what to do if fraud is suspected.

A Roger Williams University employee wrote into 12 Responds, asking what to do if the school is forced to extend its winter break by several weeks: “Can the workers file for unemployment benefits?”

In an email to 12 News, Department of Labor and Training (DLT) spokesperson Margaux Fontaine wrote, “their regular school term changed so they should be able to collect for the weeks that they’re impacted.”

Fontaine also said if someone is eligible, they should file for unemployment insurance (UI) for the weeks they’re going to be out, and once the break begins, they can refile using the regular application

Another concern is the widespread unemployment fraud 12 News has been tracking.

DLT Director Scott Jensen said this has been an ongoing issue.

“It remains a challenge, but I think we’re dealing with it just like every other state is,” Jensen said.

Debra wrote into 12 Responds, saying she “received a letter that I’m entitled to 39 weeks of unemployment at $189 per week,” however, she never applied for benefits.

Fontaine said it’s most likely that someone filed a fraudulent claim in her name, and advised reporting it to Rhode Island State Police.

“Right now, we’re lucky because the FBI and the Treasury Department are working with the state police to try to catch these folks,” Jensen added.

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