Unemployment fraud still an issue, OESC looking at 85,000 claims

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Identity thieves are still looking to cash in on unemployment in the state of Oklahoma by using other people’s names. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) said thousands of claims are currently being dealt with.

Several people are claiming they’re receiving letters in the mail as if they applied for unemployment.

“I mean my social security number was on there,” said JJ Owens.

Owens is working from home during this pandemic. She received an unemployment letter in her mailbox last week.

“I freaked out,” she said.

OESC officials said they are well aware of the issue. As of right now, they have frozen about 85,000 suspicious claims.

“Some of these are going to be legitimate claims, some of them are not,” said David Ostrowe, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration. “We’re meeting and working with both OSBI and FBI in an ongoing investigation.”

At the same time, Ostrowe said they have already gotten rid of 6,700 that they know are fraudulent. Ostrowe added that the main reason the issue is taking place is because of hackers and data breaches.

“The largest being the EQUIFAX breach back two years ago,” he said.

Owens said she has notified the OESC, but hasn’t heard back yet.

“I’m still in limbo, I’m still worried about it, and I don’t know the next step to take,” she said.

Owens isn’t the only person we’ve heard from about this. Other KFOR viewers, including my own mother, experienced the same issue.

“When I started reading it, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t apply for unemployment,’” Shelia Breasette said.

Breasette said she’s also been working from home. She added that she wanted to make sure the card was real, so she compared the card with someone who actually applied.

“It matched exactly,” she said.

The OESC and Ostrowe claimed they are working to fix the issues by putting in systems to make it harder for identity thieves.

“We’re in the process of adding two separate identity layers,” Ostrowe said.

However, those who are already victims are still worrying.

“Now I’m just praying nobody has my stuff,” Breasette said.

The best course of action right now, according to Ostrowe, is to notify them immediately if you feel you have received a fraudulent claim. The email to reach their team is Fraud@oesc.state.ok.us.

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