MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Julia Dale was named director of the State Unemployment Insurance Agency, or UIA, in October of 2021. Today she visited the two U.P. offices for the first time. She says one of her first priorities is restoring trust and confidence in the agency. Where that comes from is back in May, the UIA released information saying that tens of thousands of people were overpaid on benefits. State officials blamed the U.S. Department of Labor for the over payments and asked the federal agency not to ask people for the extra money back. The UIA has since started issuing waivers.

“There’s a lot of concerns about overpayments and waivers,” said Dale, “That’s been one of the exciting things that we’ve been able to pursue in the last several months. We’ve issued over 50-thousand waivers and there will be more waivers coming, announced in the next several weeks. We know that’s on the forefront of many Michigander’s minds.”

If you are having issues with your benefits or questions, Dale says there are a lot of options, including one people often overlook, and that’s in-person appointments.

“People will often say I just need to talk with someone about my concerns,” said Dale, “What I have been surprised by is the amount of appointments that go unbooked. I know today for instance, I asked how many appointments do you have scheduled. The staff shared they only have four appointments scheduled. If I could emphasize anything, it’s that if you have concerns, If you have questions, part of the process is difficult or there’s something you don’t understand, take advantage of the opportunity to make an appointment and come and meet with our staff.”

Another issue the UIA has been dealing with are scams or fraud. Just yesterday, they issued a warning about Phishing scams. Dale says the UIA will never text you or provide personal information in that way.

The suspicious text message is from a phone number with a 210 area code, which is in Texas. The message reads in part: “Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity: Your back payment deposit of $2,800 is now pending on your profile.” It then instructs the recipient to click on a strange link to receive payment. The link is to a fake, replica UIA website.

Find 10 tips from the UIA to protect your personal information here.