Jun. 9—Legitimately out-of-work Kansans who have had their unemployment account flagged for fraud have a new option to verify their identity if they are unable to get through on the fraud hotline.
New fraud security software installed by the Kansas Department of Labor has stopped millions of bots and fraudulent login attempts since October, the agency reports. However, some unemployed Kansans have also complained that their legitimate claims have been held up after the new system flagged their accounts for fraud too.
A bipartisan bill signed by Gov. Laura Kelly in late April gave those applicants another option to verify their identity and move their unemployment claim along by verifying their identity at a participating law enforcement agency.
House Bill 2196 also granted the Kansas Legislature greater oversight over the labor department. A new committee is charged with investigating fraudulent payments, adjusting payment scales and infusing federal dollars into the state’s unemployment fund.
If your account is flagged for fraud, the labor department might require you to provide additional information and conduct a review of your account. However, if you are having trouble reaching someone through the fraud hotline the agency set up, law enforcement agencies could potentially speed up the process.
The fraud hotline number is 785-291-6059.
If you choose to verify your identity through law enforcement, you can fill out a form online with your information. Additional documentation can include papers like a passport alone or a driver’s license and birth certificate together.
Some law enforcement agencies in the Wichita area have opted in to participate and others have not, according to the labor department. The Sedgwick, Cowley and Kingman counties’ sheriff’s offices are available to certify someone’s identity. The Rose Hill and Wellington police departments also opted in.
The Wichita Police Department has not opted in, according to the labor department’s list. A spokesperson for the police said he didn’t know of any plans to participate, and that area residents should turn to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office for assistance.
The state shut down its unemployment servers earlier this year to install its new security software to combat identity theft. On Monday, the labor department announced it had stopped over 7.5 million bots and fraudulent login attempts since October 2020.
In February, the Kansas Department of Labor publicly shared for the first time its estimate of how much it had paid out in fraudulent benefits in the pandemic: at least $290 million.
A Legislative Post Audit released soon after, however, pegged the amount at $600 million — more than double the amount estimated by the department.
House Bill 2196 took effect May 13.
“This LEO option was put in place to give claimants another option to follow,” a labor department spokesperson said in an email. “In the end, the claimant may want to pursue multiple options.”
Visit www.dol.ks.gov/web/guest/law-enforcement-identity-verification to learn more about what documents you can use to verify your identity and which law enforcement agencies are participating.
Anyone who needs help with their unemployment can also visit the assistance portal at uiassistance.getkansasbenefits.gov to submit a request for help.