Lawmakers call for DOL to release fraud data

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: April 21, 2021 06:31 PM
Created: April 21, 2021 04:48 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For months, News10NBC has been telling you about the rampant problem of unemployment identity theft.

Thousands of you have learned that your name, address and Social Security number, likely breached years ago, has been used by scammers to collect unemployment benefits.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke has repeatedly asked the New York State Department of Labor for a full accounting of how much it has paid out to fraudsters but the information has not been provided. Now, New York State lawmakers are demanding the information too.

Unemployment identity theft is a problem everywhere but other states have been more transparent about it. California for example, admits it has likely paid as much as $31 billion in fraudulent claims.

State lawmakers say New York can’t learn how to best protect itself and prevent this fraud moving forward if there isn’t a full accounting of how much has gone out the door.

“We need transparency, other states including California have put out statements estimating how much fraud actually cost their state insurance fund and I think that's important,” said Sen. George Borrello who represents all of Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua Counties and parts of Livingston County.

In an email, a spokeswoman for the NYS Department of Labor told News10NBC, “We cannot give you a specific number on the amount of fraud that has been paid out as fraud is being identified every day and we continue to work with financial institutions and law enforcement partners to recover more and more of the funds that were paid to fraudsters.”

That’s not a good enough answer for Senator Borrello, who is calling on the DOL Commissioner to release the current date so the state legislature and the public can see where an antiquated system needs to be patched.

“well, we always try to start off with the idea of sending a formal request explaining why we want the information and then taking it from there,” Sen. Borrello said when asked what would happen if DOL doesn’t provide him with the information.

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