ARTESIA, N.M. (KRQE) — More problems for the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. KRQE News 13 reported last month how the state overpaid tens of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits and it doesn’t seem like they’ve fixed the issues. New Mexicans have been getting unemployment debit cards in the mail that they never applied for.
“I’m retired, I work part-time,” said Artesia local Larry Wood. He retired more than a decade ago. “I’ve had a hard time sitting at home doing nothing,” he added. To stay busy, he works part-time for a bus company in Artesia. But now, figuring out a mistake is taking up his time.
Before Memorial Day, he went to go check his mailbox and saw that he got some mail from the Department of Workforce Solutions he wasn’t expecting. “In one day’s time, I got three letters and then four days later I got the letter with the debit card in it,” said Wood.
He said that debit card is for people on unemployment but he never applied for unemployment. So he notified Workforce Solutions. “I told them I was not entitled to it,” said Wood. “I didn’t apply for it, they got the wrong person.”
Wood also filed a police report. “They sent an officer to my house; the officer said they were getting approximately ten of those a day,” said Wood.
Workforce Solutions is chalking this issue up as someone else trying to file a fraudulent claim. A recent report revealed that since the pandemic, it’s estimated that millions worth of fraudulent claims made it through the department. The department is already in hot water after they overpaid roughly $105-million in unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
The department didn’t give KRQE News 13 an answer as to how many fraudulent claims are similar to Wood’s situation but said since May, the state has stopped at least $172-million in fraudulent claims before funds were released.
Luckily for Wood, he was able to quickly close this false claim. “My concern is there’s some foul-up within the Workforce Solutions and all of this stuff,” said Wood. He adds that he doesn’t know how much was on the card because he didn’t activate it. He’s also not sure how someone got his information and filed unemployment under his name.
If you received an unemployment debit card from the state that you did not apply for, Workforce Solutions is asking people to not activate the card and to notify them.
Step 1: Report a false Unemployment Insurance claim to NMDWS
According to the department, report all information you may have about the fraudulent claim, including the following if you have it:
- Claimant ID number
- First and last name;
- If you do not have a claimant ID, please provide the last 4 of your social security number.
The department says there are three ways to contact the department to report a false claim and send in the requested information:
- Send an email to email@example.com and put “Reported Fraud” in the subject line of the email
- Call the Fraud Hotline at 505-243-7283
- Call the Unemployment Insurance Operations Center at 1-877-664-6984
Step 2: What to do with unemployment insurance letters and/or if you receive a debit card
The department says if you receive a letter regarding unemployment insurance and you did not file a claim for benefits, refer back to step one on reporting a false UI claim and keep the letter for your records. If you receive a debit card, do not activate it or contact Wells Fargo. You may destroy this card and/or upon your fraud report to NMDWS. After reporting to NMDWS you can also call the customer service phone number for EPPICard at 1-866-898-2213 to report fraud and request for it be closed.
Step 3: Protect your Identity
The department says individuals are also encouraging steps to protect their identity including creating an account with the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov. Through FTC an individual can create an Identity Theft Report and Identity Theft Dispute Letter. If individuals are not able to file online they can contact the Identity Theft Resource Center toll-free at 888-400-5530 to report the identity theft:
- Complete and send in the fraud affidavit form if sent to you by the NMDWS UI Fraud Unit.
- For your protection, file a report with local police and retrieve a copy of your Identity Theft police report.
- Obtain a free copy of your credit report and review it for suspicious activity at annualcreditreport.com.
- Place a free fraud alert on your credit:
- Watch for fraudulent address changes with United States Postal Service.
- If you suspect that someone is using your social security number for work purposes, you should contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to report the problem. They will review your earnings with you to ensure they are correct. You can also review earnings posted to your social security statement at socialsecurity.gov/mystatement for workers 18 and older.
- You can also report fraud to the New Mexico Attorney General’s office at nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx.
(Information from KRQE.com)