TWC: Why Pay for Help That's Free?

Texans using private online sites to file unemployment claims are paying for help they could get from the state for free and risk losing their privacy, the head of the Texas Workforce Commission said.

The private jobless claim sites are legal, but they could be trying to get information from people to sell it to others for financial gain, Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken told the Houston Chronicle.

"They are just taking advantage of the situation," Pauken said. "There's always somebody trying to figure out an angle."

The three-member commission this week decided to allow a woman to backdate her jobless claim after she initially provided information to a private Web site and her claim was delayed.

It took one month before the woman began questioning other unemployed people she knew who had started receiving their benefits, and nearly three months before she correctly filed with the state.

People eligible for benefits get them based on the date they file, commission spokeswoman Ann Hatchitt said.

Some businesses may charge a fee to file unemployment claims. Filing for benefits through the Texas Workforce Commission is free.

The commission is looking into contacting Google to see whether the search engine can help make sure this type of site "doesn't bubble up to the top" in searches, Pauken said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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