KDOL working to combat surge in fraudulent unemployment claims

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Unemployment fraud is impacting thousands of Kansans, and the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) is working to crack down on the cases.

“The name is my old married name,” said Shannon Boone. “The social security number is not mine and the employee is one that’s in Lawrence, Kansas.”

Boone is no stranger to identity theft. She said it’s taken 10 years to clear her name after someone else opened credit cards and accounts in her name.

Now, she is dealing with fake unemployment claims.

“When I opened it and saw that, I was unpleasantly surprised,” said Boone.

Boone said the paper included her former married name, but a different social security number than her own. She said it also said she worked at a car shop she has never been to, let alone worked at.

Like Boone, thousands of Kansans are opening their mail box to the same letter.

One Florida woman said her information was used to file a fraudulent claim in Kansas. That fake claim lead to her food stamp benefits being decreased.

“Whatever you do, people, please pay attention to your mail,” said Cynthia Ballard, victim of a fraudulent unemployment claim. “If you get this in the mail, do not throw it away.”

As of December 28, 2020, KDOL officials said the state has stopped more than 220,000 fraudulent claims.

A 72-hour hold has been placed on new claims so officials can investigate each one properly.

KDOL has even added staff and technology to process claims faster while cracking down on identity theft.

“[The claim] says I’m a lift driver and that my wages for 2019 was $180,000,” said Jason Opat.

Opat said he has received two fraud letters. One tied to his current employer and the other claiming that he is a ride share operator.

Opat’s employer said several other employees have fallen victim to the same false claims.

“It concerns me that somebody who’s not paying attention or even knows how to interpret this paperwork can be compromised,” said Opat.

KDOL officials want you to report fraudulent claims.

To report a fake claim, click here. Once you complete the report, law enforcement officials will be notified and you will be given a police report number.

KDOL officials were not available for an immediate interview with KSN about this matter but said the fraudulent attempts are not due to a breach of the KDOL unemployment system or because of anything a Kansan may have done.

Officials said a review of the fraudulent claims indicates that scammers are finding personal information through incidents like credit card data breaches and then using the information to illegally attempt to collect unemployment.

State leaders said they are working to crack down on the issue and prevent the claims from going through.

Other states are experiencing some of the same issues, and officials said it is costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

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