Fraudulent unemployment claims preventing those who really need benefits from applying

Posted at 5:30 AM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 09:43:24-04

PHOENIX — For weeks, The Let Joe Know team, in part with The Rebound Arizona, has been holding leaders accountable and highlighting the delays and unresolved issues stemming from a large scale fraud attempt on the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

Now, it appears those fraudulent claims are preventing those who really need benefits from even applying.

Nichole, a mom of two, has been out of work since March. When COVID-19 hit Arizona, she was unable to keep working as a process server. The courts were closed and knocking on doors was not an option.

After using her last paycheck on bills, she tried applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. However, when she went online, she learned something was not right.

“We logged in and it said there was already an account that matched my social,” said Nichole.

Come to find out, Nichole’s information appears to have been used, like so many others, in the recent fraud attempt.

Scammers apply for benefits with your name and personal information but, enter their own banking information. In most cases, that bank information was red-flagged prompting documents or even a debit card to be sent to your address.

However, in Nichole’s case, when the banking information was red-flagged she did not get a notification.

“I filed the report. I called. I reported it. I did everything,” said Nichole. “I probably sent three or four different emails to the fraud department and then on the website.”

She says her concern now is trying to find a way to clear up the situation and get the benefits needed to put groceries on the table.

She says the one time she got a DES representative on the phone, they reset the fraudulent account, giving her access to it. Now, she’s unsure if she should even be logging in or using it to file her weekly claims.

“It’s been three weeks. What am I supposed to do in the meantime? I can’t survive,” says Nichole.

She says she has done her due diligence and just wants to be told what to submit so she can prove who she really is.

DES did not respond to our request for comment by our deadline.