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Kentucky still seeing 'massive' amount of fraudulent unemployment claims, official says
Delayed or missing unemployment benefits aren't the only issues Kentucky officials are dealing with, they're also being hit with fraudulent claims.
The commonwealth joins states across the country in finding more and more fraud with the pandemic still impacting people and www bbt com mobile season only just beginning.
In an update during Thursday's COVID-19 briefing, Amy Cubbage, who has been overseeing Kentucky's unemployment process, sought to provide some updates on how the state is fighting back against the fraud, and other issues impacting unemployed residents.
Cubbage said one of the biggest issues has been fraudsters trying to apply for unemployment on behalf of someone else. She even said that she received a notice of potential benefits in the mail, meaning someone was trying to receive unemployment benefits under her name.
Cubbage described the extent of unemployment benefits-related fraud as "massive," especially with the recent extension of pandemic unemployment assistance.
One of the ways Kentucky is fighting back these fraudulent claims is by verifying that the person applying for unemployment is, in fact, the person applying. She said the state is finding instances in which a person receives a notice of potential benefits in the mail, but through identification verification, the state can determine it was a fraudulent request.
According to Cubbage, more than 68,000 emails have been sent out to people letting them know their claims bank of america unemployment debit card ky be processed because the state can't verify identifications. She said in some instances, it's because claimants haven't uploaded necessary documents.
For actual claimants who receive emails letting them know their claims can't be processed, Cubbage said they should follow the appeals deadlines in the document. Claimants can then file an appeal and get their identities verified.
Other people who receive fraudulent filings can email [email protected] to let the state know that a claim was fraudulently filed under their name. The system will then mark that down as fraudulent.
The fraudulent claims are just one of the instances hitting states across the country. With tax season beginning, some people are receiving surprise 1099-G forms, which show people the benefits they received so they can report the income on their tax returns. For people who receive them and never received unemployment, it's a sign that someone stole their personal information and used it to claim benefits.
Related: Surprise tax forms show extent of unemployment fraud in US
It's unclear how widespread that issue is in Kentucky, but the fraud is so widespread that California issued payments to someone using the name of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and in Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, his wife, Fran, and Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted all learned that fraudulent claims were filed in their names.
Now, unemployment agencies could face another onslaught — this time from people requesting corrected tax forms.
Last month, the IRS said it is likely that many victims won't be able to get a corrected tax form in time to file their federal taxes. In those community savings bank bethel ohio, the IRS says taxpayers should ignore the 1099-G and file their taxes without reporting the fraudulent income.
In Kentucky, Cubbage said people who can't get corrected tax forms in time should instead report td auto finance td bank they believe is the correct amount. The Kentucky unemployment website has more information on how to do this correctly.
Cubbage also spoke about an update to Bank of America cards for unemployment benefits.
Claimants that did not change their method of payment from debit card to direct deposit in their UI account were automatically moved Feb. 1 to receive their benefits by paper checks that will arrive in the mail. If claimants still have UI debit cards, the funds must be spent off the cards no later than Feb. 28.
“If you have bank of america unemployment debit card ky on the debit card after Feb. 28, Bank of America will return those funds to the state and then our staff will process them back out to you with a paper check,” Cubbage said.
Check out the video above for the latest on unemployment benefits in Kentucky.
Kentucky warns unemployment filers to double-check payment info after reports of hacking
David Rice first got suspicious when his unemployment check didn’t hit his bank account last week.
He eventually reached a Kentucky unemployment office worker over the phone who told him his most recent benefits were deposited – into an account at a bank he doesn’t do business with.
His direct deposit banking information had been changed, a sign his account had likely been “hacked,” he said the employee told him.
Rice said he isn’t sure how his banking account information could have been changed and he’s not sure if he’ll see the hundreds in benefits that have apparently gone to a “Michael something,” he said.
Future benefits will now come via paper check, Rice said he was told, and his situation would be reported to management.
“I want some answers,” Rice said. “We’re talking about $800 here.”
Dozens of people have shared similar circumstances to Rice's this week in online social media groups dedicated to unemployment.
Shortly after this story first published Friday evening, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet said in a press release it had suspended unemployment insurance claimants' ability to change their bank account information, citing reports of unauthorized changes.
"Every UI claimant receiving direct deposits from (the Office of Unemployment Insurance) should log into their account immediately and check their payment method on file," the release says. "If it appears incorrect, they should opt to receive future payments via paper check."
The cabinet, which oversees the state’s unemployment office, noted all new unemployment benefit filers will be receiving payments via paper check, effective immediately.
The Labor Cabinet said no security breach or other type of compromise had occurred. Rather, it pointed to criminals exploiting "unsophisticated" PIN numbers as well as publicly available personal information.
It’s unclear how many benefit claimants could be affected, though the cabinet said it believes "these instances are isolated," not systemic, and are part of "the next wave of fraudulent activity hitting UI systems nationwide."
The state did not provide any numbers on how many reports of unauthorized changes it has received.
The Labor Cabinet issued its warning shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, after cabinet spokespeople did not respond to Reader's Watchdog emails seeking comment about the issue on Thursday and Friday afternoon.
In recent months, the state has reported being inundated with fraudulently filed claims, likely the work of organized criminals using personal information sold online.
But until Friday evening, state officials had not issued specific warnings about individuals’ personal information being changed in their online accounts.
Unemployment and taxes:From unemployment to new deadlines, here are some tax changes every Kentuckian should know
Another affected Kentuckian, Faye Craft, said she discovered this week that her husband’s direct deposit information had been altered.
His claim is still being reviewed by the state and is not yet being paid on, but she logs into his account every two weeks to request benefits as instructed.
This week, however, the system told her it didn’t recognize his Social Security number and four-digit personal identification number, or PIN.
She was able to reset the PIN but then saw the phone number and email account associated with her husband’s account had been changed.
She fixed those, but then noticed her husband’s banking information had been changed and was now linked to an account holder named Alicia and Bonneville Bank, the same bank Rice was told his funds had gone to.
Craft attempted to change the banking information online, she said, but the system told her she must contact the unemployment office.
“I’ve been trying to get ahold of unemployment, but I haven’t been bank of america unemployment debit card ky to get ahold of anybody,” she said Friday.
Both Rice and Craft said they recently created new accounts on the state’s unemployment website, part of a public-facing facelift.
The state announced in mid-March it was unveiling a new log-in and account home screen, which was billed as more user friendly and secure.
This new interface prompted users to create a new account, requiring them to create a complex password.
As of March 25, more than 24,500 people had registered with the new site, according to the state.
Reader's Watchdog:'Kick in the stomach': Kentucky worker wins unemployment appeal then learns program out of cash
Though Rice and Craft said they don’t know the source of their issues, they noted their problemsonly started after creating their new accounts, which they thought would help make the process more secure.
“I’m just frustrated,” Craft said. “They should have had better control over this by now. It’s been over a year. People shouldn’t have to keep facing all this. It’s one thing after another.”
State officials have encouraged benefit recipients to change their four-digit PIN every 30 days to help fight fraud, avoiding simple number sequences such as “1234” as well as numbers connected to other personal information, such as addresses or birth dates.
In the Friday news release, the state said it would now require all existing and new benefit filers to create more complex PINs.
The state also has set up an online form on its website to report suspected fraud.
Elizabeth Kuhn, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, said the office has received reports of suspected identity theft related to unemployment insurance benefits, though she didn’t specify the volume or timing of the reports.
She also noted that as of Friday, the unemployment office hadn’t reported a bank of america unemployment debit card ky breach to the attorney general’s office, which it would be required to do under state law within 72 hours of discovering a breach.
Kuhn pointed Kentuckians to a page on the office’s website, ag.ky.gov/identity-theft, for identity-theft information.
"We also encourage Kentuckians to select passwords and login information for their account that are not related to personal information (i.e. birthdates, last four digits of their Social Security number, etc.)," she said in an email. "When personal information is used, it makes it easier for a scammer to access an individual’s account."
The Labor Cabinet said it was working to verify the reports it's received "in recent days" and would "notify any affected claimants as appropriate."
The cabinet did not specifically address stolen payments in its statement.
Craft said she’s most concerned about her husband’s Social Security number seemingly being compromised. She, too, wonders when the state will respond to her email telling them about the apparent hack.
Rice said Thursday he wanted to know how this happened, what the state would be doing to fix it and whether he would be reimbursed.
"Being in limbo, not knowing," he said, "is a crock of ---."
This story may be updated.
Matthew Glowicki’s Reader's Watchdog column helps readers get answers and holds public officials, businesses and individuals to account. Contact him at [email protected], 502-582-4989 or on Twitter @mattglo.
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