WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Missed payments, long delays in response time, and most recently, reports of fraud. These are some of the issues plaguing the Kansas Department of Labor as the state works to process an unprecedented amount of unemployment claims.
The concerns led state lawmakers to launch an audit to look into what’s causing delays in unemployment checks. Since March, unemployed Kansans have faced frustrations, unable to contact the state’s labor department by phone or online.
“I was calling and calling every day. Sometimes I would be on hold for hours. Many days I could not get through at all,” Kansan Paul Cheatum said of the frustrations with unemployment.
Some waited weeks for a response and even longer for payment. Most recently, the state is receiving complaints of fraud and identity theft.
“The Kansas Department of Labor (has) validated there is some identity theft going on. When you have large sums of money provided to Kansans who need it, you’re going to have individuals try to take advantage of that,” Legislative Post Audit Vice-Chair/ Kansas Rep. Kristey Williams said.
In June, the Kansas legislature launched an audit. The audit committee is looking into what caused delays in unemployment and how KDOL’s response compared to other states. Now, that committee is also looking into fraud as part of a separate audit launched by KDOL.
Reports of increased unemployment fraud and identity theft is a problem across the United States.
The overall audit investigation is meant to give lawmakers insight into problems with KDOL. Added to that are reported scams. The audit committee expects to finish its work in the next few months.
“The audit will help us understand where our failings were,” Williams said. Were they management failings? Were they IT failings? Where they unavoidable failings because of the sheer number of claimants?”
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud concerning unemployment benefits in the state, you can contact KDOL on its website.
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