New York launches ID verification tool for unemployment fraud

Protecting Yourself Online

FILE – This May 7, 2020, file photo shows a man wearing a mask while walking under a Now Hiring sign at a CVS Pharmacy during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco. On Thursday, Nov. 12, the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 709,000, the fourth straight drop and a sign that the job market is slowly healing. The figures coincide with a sharp resurgence in confirmed viral infections to an all-time high above 120,000 a day. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday a new tool to verify identification to fight identity theft-based unemployment fraud. The Department of Labor (DOL) says using ID.me will also speed-up claims processing to give out benefits more efficiently.

“This global public health crisis has created economic uncertainty for countless New Yorkers. The fact that criminals would use these dual crises as cover to defraud is unconscionable and we’re using every tool in our arsenal to stop them,” Cuomo said. “We’re also taking this opportunity to finetune the UI system and using state-of-the-art technologies to make sure that benefits go to New Yorkers with legitimate claims and expediting the process so individuals and families get the benefits they need faster.”

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, DOL says it has found over 521,000 fraudulent claims, stopped over $6.4 billion in payments to criminals, and distributed over $70 billion in benefits to 4.2 million unemployed New Yorkers. The new web resource, ID.me, will help New Yorkers filing genuine claims get their money faster.

DOL says they catch the vast majority of fraudsters before they succeed. DOL also says it is increasing anti-fraud efforts with a new fraud-reporting website that includes information about protecting your identity from cyber criminals.

“This new ID verification tool and these additional resources add to the Department of Labor’s constantly-expanding arsenal of weapons to combat fraud,” said Roberta Reardon, the State Labor Commissioner. “Every day, we leverage highly experienced investigators, artificial intelligence, and other sophisticated techniques to identify fraud as quickly as possible, stop these criminals in their tracks, and protect New Yorkers’ unemployment system.”

Under the new process, DOL emails or texts claimants, directing them to ID.me to verify their identity online through an automated system. The old routine involved submitting copies of birth certificates, passports, and driver’s licenses—sometimes by fax—that needed manual authentication from staff members

Criminals succeed in defrauding the state’s unemployment system using the real identities of New Yorkers who are not unemployed, likely stolen in data breaches at banks, insurance companies, and employers. If you’ve received a letter from DOL but did not apply for unemployment, file a report online. DOL says any fraudulent charges will be automatically cleared from your account.

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