OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission provided an update on the state’s processing of unprecedented amounts of unemployment claims.
OESC Interim Director Shelley Zumwalt says when she took over the agency in May, claims were at 129,000.
Zumwalt says 7,000 claims are still pending. She says the agency is steadily improving.
Many Oklahomans are still looking for jobs, saying they’re weary of rising COVID-19 cases.
“It’s hard being a single mom, just trying to get what’s owed to you,” said Jennifer Foreman, who’s five months pregnant and still waiting on her unemployment benefits.
OESC says more than 3,000 claims were processed at the in-person events at the Reed Event Center in Midwest City over the last two weeks.
“The agency has steadily been becoming more successful in managing claims,” said Zumwalt.
She says fraud is a problem that is still crippling the agency. OESC has fielded complaint after complaint from claimants about the “Way2Go” cards and the company in charge of them, Conduent.
Claimants say they’ve seen their money vanish with no explanation and little to no help from Conduent.
Zumwalt says she’s been working for the last two weeks to resolve issues with the company.
“We required Conduent to be on site at these events to help these claimants,” said Zumwalt.
Zumwalt says all claims will now be under harsher scrutiny and will require more identity verification.
Claimants will now also have to use the three-digit CVV code on the back of their cards before any money can be transferred to another account. Zumwalt says this step could cause a delay in the transfer of funds, but will help ensure safety.
“These two changes have already identified an excess of 85,000 potentially fraudulent transactions,” she said.
Many Oklahomans are still worried these changes might not be enough.
“I’m sure they’re trying to do their best; they’re just maybe overwhelmed. It’s just a horrendous system,” said Charles McLellan, who is still waiting on his benefits.
Two days remain for Oklahomans in the metro area to receive help in person at the Reed Center before OESC moves to Tulsa next week.
Zumwalt says adding more events in the future might not be sustainable.
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