Don’t Let Wisconsin Confiscate Bank Accounts of the Unemployed


Target: Wisconsin State Representative Dan Knodl

Goal: Keep Wisconsin from freezing the bank accounts of unemployed individuals for recovering ‘overpaid’ funds

Wisconsin State Representative Dan Knodl has co-authored a state bill that would make it more difficult for unemployed Wisconsinites to receive benefits by requiring them to show more proof of searching for work. The bill would also force private financial institutions to hand over any requested account information of those suspected of benefit overpayment.

If the law is enacted, anyone who the state suspects of being overpaid in unemployment benefits can find their bank accounts investigated or their assets frozen without their knowledge—even if the overpayment was due to error on the part of the government, as is often the case. Moreover, all of this can be done without any legal proceeding which would normally be requisite for seizing private assets.

This is a startling expansion of state power and seems designed for the sole purpose of punishing the unemployed. While some claimants are over payed because they defraud the system or fail to search for work, there are many that are over payed because of government error or an unintentional mistake on the part of the claimant. For the state of Wisconsin to treat anyone suspected of being overpaid as a criminal with no presumption of innocence and no legal proceeding is unnecessarily injurious to honest unemployment claimants. Moreover, in light of the current scandals involving IRS, NSA, and Department of Justice oversteps, it is a frightening prospect for a state to take on the power to take over and freeze the bank accounts of citizens not found guilty of any misdeed.

Please sign the petition below to denounce the proposed law and tell Representative Knodl to draft a new bill that won’t burden the unemployed further.


Dear Representative Knodl:

Recently you and your Republican colleagues in the Wisconsin legislature that would allow the state to confiscate bank accounts of unemployment claimants suspected of overpayment. Some unemployment claimants are over payed because of fraudulent claims, but in many cases government error or an innocent mistake by the claimant is to blame. If the state government is allowed to seize the funds of anyone merely suspected of fraud, the presumption of innocence goes out the window.

I ask that you abandon your support for this bill, because it will only put more strain on the unemployed and subject innocent people to government intrusion in their private affairs and financial independence. Moreover, I implore you to draft a new bill that will improve government regulation of benefit overpayment rather than punish people who have done nothing wrong.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Cimexus via Flickr

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79 Signatures

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