TULSA, Okla. — Like so many, Trevor Gray is having issues with his unemployment debit card.
“I’ve got $2,800 sitting in my unemployment account and I can’t even touch it," he said.
Gray filed an unemployment claim on March 29. He was told he would get a debit card seven to 10 days later. 23 days later and he still doesn’t have one.
“My phone’s turned off," Gray said. "I’m having to use WiFi because I have no phone service. My kid needs diapers. I mean, I need all kinds of stuff and I can’t do anything because of this.”
Gray said he's among those who called multiple times, only to be left on hold for hours before getting cut off. Once he got through to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, he was told he would get his card on Monday but he still doesn't have it.
He’s not alone. We’ve received numerous complaints from Oklahomans regarding their debit cards. Either they got one and no money has been loaded on it or, like Gray, they're still waiting for the card to arrive. So, we went to work to find some answers.
We reached out to OESC. In one statement, it said:
“The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is working closely with Conduent to deal with recent issues relating to the issuance of Oklahoma UI debit cards and the timely deposit of funds on such cards. With the USPS experiencing staff shortages at such a high level, current expectations can run as high as 16 to 18 days for the initial receipt of cards. This was compounded by a recent system mishap that led to a 1 to 2 day delay on deposits. So every system and procedure is being examined in order to make certain that efficiencies are increasing on a regular basis. We understand that Oklahoman’s are counting on us and we expect to progress on this front daily."
When we asked for clarification about how long it was taking to get things mailed, OESC then sent another statement saying:
"We checked with the post office on Oklahoma City and they are not reporting and its warehouse is not backed up. It typically takes 7-10 days to receive a prepaid debit card. The vendor, Conduent, was issuing a generic prepaid card as it had exhausted its supply. The delay in receiving the card appears to be on the part of the vendor. We had an incident on Sunday where, for whatever reason, a number of claimants did not receive deposits on their prepaid cards. This issue was overridden yesterday morning and those deposits were sent to the claimants."
We then reached out to Conduent, the vendor for the debit cards. It also sent a statement saying:
“We are working closely with the State of Oklahoma to fulfill the unprecedented increase in disbursement of unemployment benefits. As indicated, a number of entities are involved in working as quickly as possible to get cards into the hands of hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans in need. We continue to deliver our portion of the fulfillment as rapidly as possible, and we are working cooperatively with the State and other vendors to make sure that Oklahomans get their benefits as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, Gray is still waiting for his card.
“I mean, I’d just be happy if I could set up the direct deposit," he said. "But I can’t even set up the direct deposit without the card. It says that you can, but every time I try to, it kicks me out saying that it’s invalid.”
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