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DEO cracking down after fraudulent unemployment claim surge

New IdentityTheft Scam

Some claimants who are rightfully collecting benefits are suddenly reporting being locked out of their accounts stating they need to verify their identity.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is cracking down after they are finding a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims by identity thieves.

According to statement by DEO:

“Over the past few weeks, the Department has identified an increase in filed claims, and the Department has taken additional proactive steps to mitigate fraudulent claims in the CONNECT system.” 

Some claimants who are rightfully collecting benefits are suddenly reporting being locked out of their accounts stating they need to verify their identity.

Christina Shelor said she has been trying and failing to apply for unemployment benefits for months. She finally got approved this month, but her account is one that suddenly said she needs her identity verified.

“I don’t get it,” Shelor said crying. “I said that (DEO) let millions of fraud go undetected, but a legitimate person you throw a red flag? That makes no sense to me.”

The Department of Economic Opportunity states it has partnered with ID.ME to help verify claimants identities and prevent fraud.

“In February 2021, the Department deployed ID.me’s technology solution for new claimants applying for Reemployment Assistance benefits,” DEO said in a statement. “The Department is still working through the logistics of fully integrating the ID.me identity verification tool to the CONNECT system and will provide an update once this technology is fully available for claimants.”

Shelor said she completed the steps presented on ID.me but still is unable to claim her benefits.

Shelor’s battle with Florida’s unemployment system has caused her to lose her apartment.

“I lost everything,” Shelor said. “I literally have nothing. I have my car and what’s in it.”

Shelor’s son has autism. She said it’s been hard to move out of her apartment and into a loved one’s house as it has uprooted her son from is schedule.

Stephanie Taylor Lopez was encountering the same issue, but just had her account unlocked after more than a month.

She said she filled out the ID.me questions along with countless calls and emails to the Department.

“It was very frustrating because I didn’t know if I was going to lose my car, my house, everything,” Taylor Lopez said.

DEO said if you feel like your claim has been locked by mistake, you can call their customer service center at 1-833-fl-apply

To protect yourself from identity theft, don’t share your social security number with anyone.

Don’t give out your connect account login information and don’t click links relating to unemployment if they are not from DEO.

Source: on 2021-02-16 19:45:00

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