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Grand Rapids man gets $10k bill from UIA despite never filing for benefits

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Posted at 8:02 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 22:20:07-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids man is worried about the state garnishing his wages after the Unemployment Insurance Agency says it overpaid him.

The only problem is he never filed for benefits.

It’s really confusing to him because he was working during the entire pandemic, and even when he wasn’t fully on the job, his employer still paid him.

“The total they say I owe is $10,300,” said Tim Walters.

He’s a sales adviser for Tony Betten Ford in Grand Rapids. Last year he was off the job for about a month but continued to get a check. His employer told him not to file for unemployment since they were still getting paid.

When he returned to work, he was shocked at what one of his bosses had asked of him.

“The CFO called me up and said, ‘Hey, did you apply for unemployment?’ and I said I didn’t because, and this is why, because of what they told me. He said, ‘Well, I got something from unemployment here that says that you did.’ I said, ‘Well, I didn’t.’”

Tim sent all the proof the UIA asked for, but the confusion has lasted for more than five months.

Sept. 8 he wrote a letter to the UIA explaining he never stopped working for the dealership and did not apply for benefits.

A month later the bill came saying he owed $10,000 and was behind $125 on payments.

A few weeks after that he got another notice telling him if he believed he was a victim of ID theft, he needed to report it and that “No further action was needed.. there is no payment required.. and there is no risk of any garnishment.”

If that’s the case, why did he then get another notice the following month saying he was past due $250?

It’s almost like the computer systems are not talking to each other.

“And then when I call the name and number at the bottom of the paper that they send, you can’t reach anybody. They tell you to go online. Well, that gets you nowhere,” said Walters.

In December he got a warning about collections, telling him U.S. and Michigan treasury departments could intercept the payments.

Just this month, the final warning that scared him. His wages were about to be garnished.

“So what I did was went in and talked with the CFO again, and he said, ‘Unfortunately, Tim, if I get this letter even though I know that you didn’t do this, I still have to sign up to garnish your wages because I don’t get in the middle of that.’ That’s not his position,” said Walters.

Despite never filing for benefits and continuing his job, Tim is unsure about the future payments. He tells me business is slow as it is, and if the state garnishes his wages, he won’t have much left.

That’s why he reached out to FOX 17 for help.

“And then I’m thinking, ‘Well, if they garnish my wages, how the heck do I get back and prove all this?’ And obviously I could go get a lawyer, but I’m not in the position to spend a couple thousand dollars to go do that when they’re gonna garnish my wages anyway,” he said.

The UIA says this is another unfortunate example of a fraudulent claim filed in his name, and there is no risk for collections.

But to resolve the issues, each matter requires a human to get involved because it’s a process that cannot be performed by a computer.

Once it’s finished people will get a “null and void” determination sent to their home address.

If you believe you’re a victim of ID theft, you can report it online by clicking this link.

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