TULSA, Okla. — Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission stopped more than 360,000 fraudulent unemployment claims.
However, for those whose fraud cases have not been resolved, that number isn’t much comfort.
Jessica Turner is one of those fraud victims and now she needs her benefits. “It just puts a hold on life, like I have to wait and not know what I should do,” Turner said.
Turner notified the OESC about a fraudulent claim made in her name back in June but it was never resolved.
“I found out it's been since April, I’ve had fraud on my unemployment,” Turner said.
Now the situation is more urgent. Turner lost her job on August 15 and she needs to stay home with her four boys during distance learning, but she still can’t get her benefits.
She said the OESC told her the fraudulent claim could take months to investigate before she could make a legitimate claim.
“I finally got a hold of someone after waiting five hours on the phone, and they said that it could take up two months for them to figure it out and if I needed to make a claim, which I now I actually do need to make a claim. And they said that I can't do it I have to wait for the fraud and they're gonna have to investigate. And so, after all this time, I've been waiting now having to wait longer,” Turner said.
Shelley Zumwalt, the interim executive director for the OESC, said the agency is working to tackle fraud since the pandemic began.
"Through this pandemic since I've been here in May, we've actually been able to mitigate quite a bit of fraud, but it by no means is it, you know, mitigated completely, have we wiped it out,“ Zumwalt said.
Zumwalt said since she took over in May, the OESC streamlined fraud investigations down to under seven days.
She told 2 Works for You no one should be told the investigation will take months.
“If someone is receiving that information that is going to take, you know, months to get this result, that is just simply not true. And if they, you know, honestly, I would like to know if they are receiving that information, because we need to correct our offices if they're saying that this process has been examined almost more than any other process because I honestly don't think it's acceptable for us to tell someone this is going to take months to resolve. That's you know, they're getting victimized twice,” Zumwalt said.
2 Works for You sent Turner’s information to the OESC for review.
Turner is not alone. Just about every day the Problem Solvers are contacted by Oklahomans frustrated or upset because they’re not getting answers from the OESC.
Jennifer Mick is one of those Oklahomans.
“I was put on hold for a long time and then when the person would answer, it would hang up on me. And so, I was in desperation and I didn't know what else to do. And so, I called the Problem Solvers, and they helped me," Mick said.
We contacted the OESC on Jennifer’s behalf and within a day, the agency cleared the hold on her account.
“They said all my weeks are going to be filed for and I will be getting it," Mick said.
Zumwalt said the OESC was able to get her case resolved.
“At this point in the pandemic, a lot of the cases that are coming our way, no matter what, you know doorway they're coming in, they're complicated and multiple things have happened," she said. "So, I believe with her case, she had something happened in the beginning and then we had to verify something else and sometimes, you know, those cases can take longer to resolve than we would like, but I'm glad that we got this one resolved."
If you are the victim of unemployment fraud CLICK HERE to fill out a report.
If you are still employed and a claim has been made in your name, contact the personnel department at your place of employment or your HR department.
If you aren't getting any answers contact the Problem Solvers:
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