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Unemployment benefits: New state anti-fraud effort may be backfiring

One woman says she can't get her benefits
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Posted at 8:24 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 20:25:20-05

VINCENNES — To avoid fraud, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development has implemented a new identity verification procedure. But one woman says she’s had serious problems with the system, preventing her from receiving her unemployment benefits.

Catherine Fleenor filed for unemployment the week of Christmas. A few days later, there was a notice on her account to complete the new ID verification. So she followed the steps, uploaded all of the requested documents. But for whatever reason, her documents couldn’t be verified.

Fleenor then called the Department of Workforce Development. “They said oh if you do it again, it’ll come up and tell you that you need to do a video call with them,” said Fleenor.

It did. She dialed into the video call and waited. “The first time it was an-hour-and-a-half wait,” she said. “I never got through to anybody because I had an appointment. I had to leave.”

The same thing happened the second time, after waiting for two hours. “The third time I called,” she said, “I decided I was staying on until I got through to somebody. It was eight hours sitting on the system waiting for someone to connect on a video call. I couldn’t believe it, 4 a.m. in the morning. I was determined to make sure that I got through that time.”

Finally, everything was completed and within five minutes, she received this email saying her ID was verified. “The day that my ID was verified it was January 13,” said Fleenor. “And it still has not cleared on my account.”

But almost a month later, and her account still shows uncompleted. “That’s what one agent told me: that everything on my account was done,” she said. “All I was waiting for was the ID verification. And from looking at my account, it shows how much I’ll be getting each week and how much money total benefits and everything. It’s just waiting on the ID verification.”

This is also preventing her from receiving much needed assistance, after no longer working as a food court supervisor at a university, due to COVID.

“I did everything that they asked me to do. They just don’t seem to worry about that you’re not getting your money,” she said. “You’re not working, you’re not getting your money, and of course you can’t pay your bills.”

DWD commissioner Fred Payne said 71% of current claims have fraud indicators through their new ID.ME system, meaning three out of every four claims require some sort of additional processing.

We reached out to see what the issue is with Fleenor’s account.

A spokesperson tells WRTV: "Thousands of Hoosiers have successfully verified their identity through ID.me. While we cannot release a specific claimant’s information, we can generally say that both DWD and ID.me are working hard to resolve any issues a claimant has. If a claimant does not pass the self-service identity verification process, they must go through the ID.me Trusted Referee process. During this process, they would need to have similar documents that they have to start a job. If a claimant is having technical issues, ID.me has two methods: submit a ticket on their site (preferred method) or send an email."