PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of Rhode Islanders and people across the country are falling victim to unemployment fraud.
As 12 News reported in early March, roughly 43% of unemployment claims in the last year were suspected to be fraudulent. Of that over 37,000,000 has been paid to confirmed fraudsters.
Matthew DeGeorge says he’s a victim. He says he got a letter in the mail saying he’d been approved for unemployment at the end of October, but he never filed.
What did he do next? He filled out a state police form on the Department of Labor and Training website. The issue now is, that he actually needs the money for himself but he can’t get it.
“I can maybe hold out another 2/3 weeks, but it’s getting tough,” he said.
On January 29th, DeGeorge filed a jobless claim with DLT. He says he’s called several times and he’s told that the claim is being handled by the fraud team and there is nothing they currently can do.
This is the reality for many people, they fall victim to someone filing for jobless benefits in their name and when they really need the help, they can’t get it.
“After being on hold – an hour, hour and a half – can’t help you, can’t do anything for you, the fraud team has already been notified and you can’t contact the fraud team,” said DeGeorge.
Same goes for Janet who wrote into 12 responds saying:
“How can I get the Rhode Island unemployment fraud unit to close a fraud case so I can actually apply for myself? I had to call 53 times and then finally was put on hold for 45 minutes.”Janet, 12 Responds
DLT interim director Matt Weldon says the call center is fielding over a thousand calls a day and they have more people on the phones than ever before, but their fraud unit is small.
“Once we hard lock a claim, only a handful of people can touch that. The work streams get much more difficult when fraudsters call us every day, when they file claims every day,” he said.
According to Weldon, DLT is training more people hoping to clear the backlog. DeGeorge believes it’s too little too late.
“I understand that, but it seems they’re training more front end people level one where you take the call versus the back-end people to process the claims.”
The advice for those who have fallen victims of fraud is to keep calling DLT, check your credit, and register with the FTC. At this rate, DeGeorge says he just wants his claim and everyone else’s to be resolved.
Weldon says soon people will be able to check in and get a real time updates on the status of their claim. No current timeline for that system.
Shortly after 12 News interviewed DeGeorge, someone from DLT reached out to resolve his problem.