NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Labor is working to recoup $1.3 million in fraudulent unemployment claims made to prisoners housed in jails as a result of a new tracking system to help notify and compensate crime victims. Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), who sponsored changes recently put into place to Tennessee’s Statewide Automatic Victim Information Notification Service (SAVIN), said he is very pleased the system is now working not only inform crime victims regarding their perpetrator’s status, but can also perform other important tasks like tracking fraudulent claims.
“This system was first brought to our attention by domestic violence victims,” said Senator Ketron. “It is a very important tool to provide them with information regarding their perpetrator and help them recover any possible compensation that could be available. Although the original system was approved in 2007, it was inadequately funded. Last year, we increased litigation fines on criminals by $3 to ensure that the money was in place. As a result, SAVIN is now performing very well in helping crime victims. It is also beginning to find large savings for the state in a massive fraud prevention program utilizing the same database.”
SAVIN interfaces with the Department of Labor each week before unemployment checks are issued. The Department compares those records with local jail records statewide to make sure that no one in jail is able to fraudulently claim unemployment benefits. Last year, the system indicated Tennessee paid over $1.3 million in fraudulent claims to individuals to claimants housed in local jails. Those claimants and the amount that they received have been identified and the Department is working to recover those payments. Ketron added, “But more importantly, those claims will not be paid in the first place as a result of the new system.”
“This system makes sure that we offer the best quality services to those who have suffered at the hands of a criminal. This is one way that those who are victimized are offered comfort and protection from those who have wronged them in the past. At the same time, the database is an incredible tool to help us locate fraud,” he concluded.