In March of this year, OMNI provided an update about a rash of fraudulent unemployment claims – over 82,000 in just one week—in the state of Kansas. At the time, the state’s antiquated claims processing computer system, lax security measures, and the historic unemployment levels created a perfect storm that gave Kansas the highest number of fraudulent claims in any state, behind only California and Illinois.
In April, Kansas state Governor Laura Kelly signed legislation into law, holding harmless businesses that had been victimized by fraudulent claims and implementing a process intended to modernize computer technology at the labor department. The legislation also created the Unemployment Compensation, Modernization, and Improvement Council, which began its work earlier this month. The Council will examine the claims filing and benefits disbursement processes and make recommendations for improvements to the unemployment system in the areas of technological infrastructure improvements, system integrity and security, and more.
In the meantime, the state of Kansas has partnered with law enforcement across the state in a process to verify identities of those whose claims have been flagged as potentially fraudulent. The Kansas Department of Labor reports that, as of June 3, nearly 60,000 unemployment claims have required additional verification. Click here for information on how to verify your identity, if you have received notice that you must do so.
Individuals who fell victim to unemployment fraud last fall and over the winter may be seeing renewed efforts by scammers to steal their identities—particularly if enough time has passed for credit alerts to expire. Here are some steps individuals should take to protect their identities:
Step 1: First, make it a habit to check your credit report on a regular basis. Click here to access free reports per the Federal Law. As of now, you can do so weekly. If your credit report contains an account or loan that you did not open, be sure to file a dispute with the credit bureau AND with the company that furnished the information to the credit bureau. Both are legally obligated to investigate.
Step 2: If you receive notification that someone has fraudulently filed for unemployment benefits in your name, you must file a report with the Kansas Department of Labor (DOL), either by calling the Fraud Hotline at 785-291-6059 OR by visiting https://www.fraudreport.ks.gov/ and clicking on the second blue button labeled “I received a notice for myself.”
Step 3: After submitting a Fraud Report with the DOL, you will receive an e-mail confirmation. The DOL says they will investigate every claim, suspend the fraudulent account if they find suspicious activity, and refer the matter over to law enforcement for action – even if you do not hear from KDOL any further. Because a fraudulent claim contains personal information, including Social Security Number and date of birth, individuals may face risk of further harm and should take the following steps:
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission
- Place a fraud alert on your credit record with one of the three credit bureaus. Even if you have done this in the past, your fraud alert may have expired. (Equifax: (866) 349-5191; Experian: (888) 397-3742; TransUnion: (800) 680-7289)
- Contact your financial providers (banks, credit card companies, etc.) to flag irregular transactions.
- If you haven’t already, open a “My Social Security Account.” Log in to that account to check your Social Security earnings statements online and verify the accuracy of your reported wages.
Employers must also report fraudulent activity to the KDOL by calling the Fraud Hotline number listed above OR by clicking here. Click on the first blue button (labeled I received a notice for an employee/employees) to file an online report.
OMNI continues to monitor developments in this arena for our clients and will provide ongoing updates.