by William Spain
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- The Department of Labor is inking agreements with nine states to share information as it begins a new crackdown on companies that cheat workers out of their earnings, the Associated Press reports. The program is designed to help ferret out businesses that improperly deem workers to be independent contractors so as to deprive them of minimum wages and overtime pay. Such tactics also let employers evade paying workers compensation, unemployment insurance and federal taxes. Patricia Smith, the department's lead lawyer, told the AP that sharing information between state and federal agencies could mean multiple fines for violators. "There's more of an incentive to be in compliance because the cost of what we consider to be illegal activity has increased," she said.