I was incarcerated for 27 days, I was getting unemployment from NYS, when I was released I called unemployment to certify benefits. They would only go back a couple of weeks so the lady asked me a few questions to certify then told me to go online after 8pm to claim for the following week , then she says they know i was incarcerated and put me on hold and I got disconnected so I didnt wait until 8 I did it right away then called back. They said I couldnt collect unemployment while i was in jail. So I waited until Sunday to claim benefits again because I wasnt in jail for that week. I checked today and my payment wasnt released so I called again. They said I had call a Dept of labor investigator and speak to them and show them proof of when I was released from jail. I keep calling the number but it goes right to voice mail and nobody is calling me back, and its a fraud investigator. I didnt receive any money while I was in jail though but Im scared that I might get in trouble, I was searching the internet for answers but cant find any. Im scared to death. Could I be charged with a crime if I didnt receive any money and didnt know I couldnt attempt to collect while i was in jail, which the lady should have checked before she certified the benefits for me and told me to do it again later?
If you are honest and upfront with the DOL, I do not think anyone will accuse you of fraud, but you should make sure you document communications, so that you have proof that you are not seeking benefits for the period of time that you were incarcerated.
This answer does not constitute legal advice and you should contact an attorney to confirm or research further any statements made in this answer. Any statements of fact or law I have made in this answer pertain solely to New York State and should not be relied upon in any way in any other jurisdiction. Additionally, we also encourage you to reach out to us via Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/employattorney) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/WhiteRicottaandMarks) if you have follow up questions as we do not monitor questions after providing an initial answer.
As far as I understand your question, I would say it only matters what you say when you call in each week. If you don't call in, you don't get paid. If you call in while in jail, you need to say that you were not available or looking for work.