If you're filing an unemployment insurance claim online in New Jersey, you had better be who you say you are. That's the warning from Department of Labor and Workforce Development commissioner Hal Wirths.

Flickr User Burt Lum

That's not an idle threat because Wirths' team has a brand new tool to help catch would-be scammers.

Using state of the art technology, the new system requires people who file for Unemployment Insurance benefits to answer a series of multiple choice questions that will allow the state to confirm their identity before clearing payment on a claim. The system is designed to prevent identity thieves from filing phony unemployment claims using the stolen identities of innocent and unsuspecting victims, which is a common type of fraud used to raid Unemployment Insurance funds around the nation.

The new program is called "Identity Proofing."

When a person files an Unemployment Insurance claim, providing the Department of Labor with his or her name and other legally required information, the new system conducts an instant search. It matches the information provided by the claimant against data the system electronically pulls from public records related to the name and identifying information provided by the claimant. The system then devises questions using that background data, such as what type of car the person first owned or previous addresses where the claimant resided.

"Identity thieves who steal a person's name and social security number to file a fraudulent Unemployment Insurance claim are unlikely to know some innocuous, but key facts, such as whether a person graduated a certain college or once owned a motorcycle," explains Deputy Labor commissioner Aaron Fichtner. They also are unlikely to simply guess the correct answers to three or more questions."

Those who pass the identity verification will have their claim processed for benefit payments. Those who do not pass, choose not to participate in the questioning or who quit during the question session will not be cleared for benefits. Instead, that person will need to confirm their identity in person before any benefits will be paid.

Ron Marino, assistant commissioner of Income Security says, "Those people will be mailed information requiring they report to designated Department locations for in-person verification and they are given a list of acceptable identity verification documentation they need to produce. A fraudster is not likely to show his face for an in-person interview or have the additional identification papers."

Wirths says not a single person who has failed the quickie online test has showed up in person to file a claim. By December, the "Identity Proofing" system will also be used to verify those who file claims over the phone.

"Anyone today who is committing fraud, I would advise you to stop certifying that check because we're going to get you," warns Wirths. "We may already have and you may not even know that we already have you, but you'll find out in the next couple of weeks that we have you."

Wirths admits that stopping all fraud is impossible and to think otherwise is naïve, but he vows his Department will make it a difficult as possible for those looking to commit fraud. He explains, "There's always going to be fraud. We're always going to have somebody one step ahead of us. All I can do is harden the target as hard as possible."