Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry

Improving Unemployment Fraud Reporting with User Research


USDR worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to conduct user research and produce wireframes that will inform a redesign of their unemployment fraud reporting tool. The state was faced with several challenges, including: a backlog of more than 100,000 fraud reports, reports coming in from multiple entry points and in different formats, and reports submitted missing key information.

Our approach

USDR worked in two phases: discovery and production of a research kit.

In the discovery phase, the team focused on:
1) understanding terminology, service factors, and key information flows related to fraud reporting and investigation.
2) identifying user barriers in the fraud reporting experience that create confusion and lead to incorrect or insufficient information needed to expedite investigations.
3) identifying fraud investigator pain points around processing new reports and following-up on existing reports.

In the production phase, the team collaborated with the state investigation team to produce a research and interview kit. The kit will help guide the state in conducting user research, with special consideration for the sensitivity required for claimants who may have been victims of fraud and for people whose primary language is Spanish.


  • Reduce time to resolve newly reported fraud cases
  • Improve customer experience for fraud reporters and victims
  • Improve fraud report processing workflow


The team discovered four main pain points related to the user experience of reporting unemployment compensation fraud:

  1. Users struggled to confidently move through the fraud reporting process, often getting stuck at the very beginning.
  2. The website didn’t guide users to clearly provide the key information needed to efficiently investigate the fraud.
  3. Users were frustrated by the lack of clear fraud-resolution expectations and no status updates.
  4. Fraud reporters arrived at the reporting website feeling vulnerable and distrustful that websites can guard their personal information.

The team produced a research and interview kit for the state that includes detailed guidance in the following areas:

  • UX content writing principles, with a focus on plain language in English and Spanish
  • Fraud claimant interview kit containing:
    - Full Research Plan, including recruiting language, in English and Spanish
    - Fraud Claimant 45-Min Interview Discussion Guide, in English and Spanish
    - Fraud Claimant 45-Min Interview Stimulus (Figma, Google Slides), in English and Spanish
  • Wireframes and UX flow reviewed by investigator staff
  • Recommendations for how to improve workflow, measure impact, and implement a continuous improvement mechanism

“Helping claimants with unemployment insurance fraud cases is often a sensitive, vulnerable, and frustrating situation for them. USDR helped our team lead with empathy and discover where we could help ease friction in the fraud reporting process, which in turn helps reduce burden on both claimants and our team. We’re thrilled with the resources created - helping build trust with claimants and streamlining our processes are strategies that will help build resiliency within our department for the future.”

Theresa Elliott
Deputy Director of Transformation
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry


The state will use these resources to conduct user research directly with people who report fraud, which will ultimately help them improve the fraud reporting experience, help them clear their current backlog of more than 100,000 fraud reports more quickly, and streamline future incoming reports.


Meet the team

Marcie Chin
Marcie is manages the Unemployment Insurance Program, specializing in strategy, UX research, and language access. She believes that the application of equity-centered design and ethical technology creates value for all people and systems.
Misa Misono
Hernan Chiosso
Hernan (he/him) is an HR Innovation consultant and HR tech Product Manager. He has a background as a web developer and designer, and 25 years of experience in the tech industry, assembling and leading high-performance remote teams.
Josh MacAdam
Maria Bell
Marilyn Osei
Nina Hido
Vicky Pridgen
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