KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas Department of Labor continues to see phishing attempts around the same time it implemented a new identity theft prevention system.
Efforts to fight fraudulent unemployment claims in Kansas which were implemented over the weekend have so far been successful, Gov. Laura Kelly said Wednesday.
The Kansas Department of Labor suspended payments Friday through Tuesday so it could install a new identify theft prevention system.
The system is designed to verify users’ identity using their credit history and set up two-factor authentication.
Kelly said the department had already blocked 601,000 fraudulent login attempts since 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Kelly said she believes the system “will remove a huge burden from our labor staff” who can instead focus on helping Kansans get their unemployment benefits.
The suspension in payments over the weekend did not affect federal unemployment payouts.
KDOL said claimants who are usually paid on any of those days will still receive their benefits.
Additionally, the department said on Wednesday that a new text phishing scam was making the rounds. It warned recipients not to click on any links and delete the message immediately.
KDOL also asked recipients to report the incident.
The department has faced backlash, and officials have even received death threats, throughout the pandemic as thousands of Kansans filed for unemployment.
Kelly and other state officials have repeatedly said the state’s “antiquated” system was not prepared to handle the influx. She offered more insight Wednesday.
“The Department of Labor staff has processed $3.9 million weekly claims, totaling over $2.6 billion between regular unemployment and federal pandemic programs,” Kelly said. “To put this in perspective, prior to the pandemic, it took eight years to get to $2.6 billion in claims. In 2020, it took eight months.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the new phishing scam announced on Wednesday was related to the identity-theft protection measures.