PSU sees more fraudulent claims
PITTSBURG, Kan. – The pandemic has brought on a surge of unemployment claims, many of them false. It’s a problem for large employers across the State of Kansas, including many universities like PSU.
“About July, it really started affecting our employees at Pitt State, so we’re up to around 50 right now. Other Kansas Board of Regents universities are feeling the same pain, of course they have more employees. Their claims are in the hundreds,” explained Lori Scott Dreiling with PSU’s HR Dept.
Across the state, the Kansas Department of Labor has stopped over 55,000 fraudulent unemployment claims.
“A few days ago, we were set to pay out $37 million and then our fraud teams went to work and determined that $35 million of that was fraudulent,” stated Ryan Wright, Secretary of Labor for the State of Kansas.
Employees in the government or public sector are especially vulnerable to identity theft because their general information is easily accessible through a simple web search.
“There are malicious people out there using their identity, so, no, they [current employees] did not file a claim. They have not been unemployed. They have not been on a furlough. They have not been on a layoff. Just people are out there getting a list from public domains and it’s not a breach from the university at all, nor from the State of Kansas,” said Dreiling.
“If they only have part of your data, they can start building out the rest of your profile. You know, this is a small state and so teachers oftentimes will go back to their towns to work and it’s not hard to put together what your mascot is or what your high school name is,” said Wright.
Like a lot of states, Kansas is dealing with a backlog of claims, issuing a 72 hour hold on any new claims to allow for a full investigation. The problem is that’s slowing down access to benefits for real people in need.
“I know this is frustrating people. I know they’re trying to make ends meet right now, but I promise you that if you are owed money from this agency and your claim is valid, you will get paid that money,” said Wright.
So far, nationally, fraudulent unemployment claims are costing tax payers over $8 billion. In Kansas, 95% of the state’s new claims are proving false.
The Kansas Dept. of Labor has more than doubled the size of its Fraud & Special Investigation Unit.
If you need to report fraud, the Kansas Dept. of Labor will generate a police report for you.
To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, Wright recommends checking your credit report at least once a year, changing your passwords frequently and also avoiding clicking on any suspicious links.