Unemployment claims can be free

The state Employment Security Department has issued a warning that jobless people should be cautious about any offers to help them file their unemployment claims for a fee. According to the department:

• Unemployed workers must search for job openings as a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits. One of the places they search for openings is through a state Web site, go2worksource.com. If they mistype it as just 2worksource.com, they land on a site that charges them $9.95 to file their unemployment claims. The claimants then receive an e-mail from “Unemployment Advisors” confirming that the fee has been charged to their credit cards.

• Officials said Employment Security doesn’t know if such claims have been filed unless the claimant calls the department to check.

• Sites offering to help unemployed workers obtain unemployment benefits, often for a fee, may not be illegal, but they can be confusing, inaccurate and unnecessary. “People who have been laid off can’t afford to be spending money on services they can get from us for free,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee.

• The state’s official Web site for filing claims is esd.wa.gov Web.