KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas Department of Labor says it's taking new steps to stop identity theft-related fraud.
According to a news release sent out Tuesday by the department, Kansas, like every other state, is seeing a historic increase in reports of fraudulent unemployment claims.
The department said it has prevented about 45,000 identity theft-related fraudulent claims from being paid out.
As part of its newly-announced effort to stop the fraudulent claims, the department said it will be adding new layers of protections for Kansans.
The department is asking claimants to be vigilant and make reports to reportfraud.ks.gov.
Once a suspected identity theft claim is reported on the site, the system generates a police report number and tips for victims to use to help mitigate the damage from the theft.
The department also announced a number of resources for those who have become victims to identity theft. Fraudulent claims are filed using the names and personally identifiable information (PII) of people who have not lost their jobs. Employees are often unaware a claim has been made on their behalf until they receive a “Notice of Determination” letter in the mail from KDOL or until their employer receives a notice to verify the employee’s status.
The department said reviews of these claims show scammers are getting information through credit card data breaches, email phishing or cybersecurity attacks.
Overland Park resident Tom McDonald first told 41 Action News about his experience dealing with identity theft in August.
McDonald had received a letter that appeared to be from the Kansas Department of Labor. He said it instantly concerned him since he had not filed for unemployment in 40 years. The letter included several pieces of personal information about his employer and earnings.
"The information's already out there, it's escaped, it's done, there's nothing I can do to pull it back," McDonald said.
Since receiving the letter McDonald has spent hundreds on credit protection, but he hasn't gotten a resolution.
"I have not seen anything more as far as contact from the labor department at all," McDonald said.
41 Action News also reported several instances of people receiving numerous letters from the Kansas Department of Labor that had their address but not their names.
While unemployment claimant Matthew DeWolfe did not receive one, he said his wife recently had and identity theft scare when someone tried to file a claim in her name in Colorado.
"We got a letter in the mail that stated that she was getting a Colorado unemployment debit card," DeWolfe said. "I found out they had all of my wife's information and our address, and we've never lived in Colorado."
DeWolfe said the Colorado Department of Labor resolved the issue, but he worries about the Kansas Deparement of Labor's ability to do the same for Kansans.
"Obviously it's a great thing to do, to watch out for it, make sure that things are done right, and make sure that everything lines up, but I feel sorry for those that are going to get caught in the crossfire of taking extra weeks maybe months to receive anything," DeWolfe said.