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Proposed Bill in Wisconsin Would Allow Lawmakers to Peek Into Bank Accounts of the Unemployed


“This is to protect the workers and lessen the burden on employers..."

(Photo: Shutterstock/Luna Vandoorne)

(Photo: Shutterstock/Luna Vandoorne)

Wisconsin lawmakers are pushing controversial legislation that would allow the state to snoop on the private bank accounts of those collecting unemployment benefits.

The move is said to be an effort to prevent fraud and recoup benefits that should not have been paid out.

“This is to protect the workers and lessen the burden on employers who are paying all the bills,” Rep. Dan Knodl, a Germantown Republican and co-author of the bill, remarked.

But many are concerned about privacy, and the implications of allowing the state access and control over private bank accounts.

According to the State Journal, financial institutions doing business with the state would also be required to disclose information about accounts held by people who owe money to the unemployment system.

And state officials could sue to freeze bank accounts that hold money improperly paid as a result of administrative errors or computer malfunctions.

Job seekers speak to representatives of employers at a job fair on March 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to NBC 26, Wisconsin was forced to borrow from the federal government to pay for unemployment benefits during the recession.  In 2008 and a total of $1.5 billion was owed.

And according to the United States Department of Labor, Wisconsin has one of the highest rates of improper unemployment payments in the nation.

Photo via the United States Department of Labor:

Photo via the United States Department of Labor

The state has been looking to crack down on unemployment waste from several angles.

Earlier this month, the state's budget committee approved a provision in Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal that would require the unemployed to apply for four jobs a week, instead of two, to get benefits.

But do you think allowing the state to snoop on private bank accounts takes reform too far?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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