Updated: April 06, 2021 06:20 PM
Created: April 06, 2021 05:52 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Over the past several months, thousands of people locally have learned that their personal information has been used by scammers to try and collect unemployment benefits.
News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke has been exposing issues with the State’s checks and balances when it comes to shelling out the money and the tedious process of clearing up the ID theft.
The case of a Pittsford family might take the cake though. Robert Deutsch recently learned that his adult son with disabilities, Steven’s identity was being used to fraudulently file for unemployment benefits.
“Every day that I go to the mailbox, I cringe,” Robert says explaining that at first, they were receiving a letter or two per day from the New York State Department of Labor but now, “I go to the mailbox and pull out a stack. Yesterday, there were 53 notices all from the Department of Labor… I've tried calling, I've tried emailing and it says on the recording that you cannot talk to a live person,” he told News10NBC.
Over the course of the last month, Robert has received more than 500 letters and nearly a dozen Key Bank debit cards addressed to Steven from the New York State Department of Labor.
In some cases, Steven’s name is transposed or a middle initial is listed but the address and other identifying information is the same.
“Every single one of them has the correct last four digits of his Social Security number,” Robert said.
Robert thinks it’s possible the scammers who are using Steven’s personal information may be trying to intercept the mail to retrieve and activate the Key Bank cards so he’s been rushing to the mailbox daily.
Obviously, his first concern is getting this cleared up for his son but as a taxpayer, Robert is also wondering why the Department of Labor doesn’t have systems in place to identify the same Social Security Number being used multiple times with the same address.
“I can only imagine how much it’s costing them to send all these letters… we’re stuck in someone's computer and it just keeps spitting them out or something, I'm hoping that's what it is,” he said.
Robert and Steven couldn’t get through to the Department of Labor but News10NBC was able to on their behalf on Tuesday.
In a statement, NYSDOL Spokeswoman Deanna Cohen says, “We recognize and apologize to the Howick family for the inconvenience of receiving multiple letters — which are predominantly flagging potential fraud — but they are proof positive that our system is working to catch this illegal activity.”
Five hundred letters and nearly a dozen Key Bank cards to one person is proof positive that the system is working? Even at bulk-mail rates, that’s at least $100 on postage alone and the letters keep coming.
“It's like having your finger in the dike and then trying to hold it back there's just no way and you can't stop it you just can't stop it,” Robert said.
DOL adds that while fraudulent claims are stopped immediately, the communication, printing, and mailing process may continue for weeks or months later. Individuals do not need to send a report for each piece of communication received.
If you feel you are the victim of Unemployment ID theft:
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