As thousands of Arizonians wait to receive unemployment benefits, others claim they are among the few to see money in their accounts. However, these people never applied for the benefits in the first place.
Two Valley residents, Randy and Clara, wrote to the Let Joe Know team to explain how letters showed up in their mailbox from the Department of Economic Security.
“It’s my name with my old address on it saying that I, you know, filed for unemployment and I have a certification of understanding,” said Randy.
In Clara’s case, she got that and more. She received a debit card, in her name, that she thinks has more than $600 on it.
Both Randy and Clara are still working. They say the coronavirus did not affect their jobs or their hours in any way. They also say they never filed an application, so how did their information get into the DES system?
Clara believes either an employee or person applying entered the wrong social security number or she believes someone may have deliberately stolen her information.
She says she is trying to return the money and has called DES multiple times to find out how. She has not heard back.
The same is true for Randy.
“There are people that need it, that still have not been approved or able to get a hold of anyone,” said Randy. “That is terribly sad.”
We took their issues to DES and asked if a mistake was made on their end or is it fraud?
DES says they have a whole unit dedicated to detecting and preventing identity theft.
They say they are investigating Randy and Clara’s cases to determine if it is fraud. If so, they will hand over the information to the Attorney General’s Office for possible charges.
DES claims that between February and May of this year, they stopped 57 fraud cases involving identity theft.
There are still thousands of people across the state waiting for payments from their unemployment claims. The Let Joe Know team is continuing to push DES on why that continues to take so long, and if they have gotten around to hiring more staff as they have promised.