Oklahomans See Confusion Over Unemployment Claims Verification, Concerns About Scammers Calling

Wednesday, May 13th 2020, 10:09 pm
By: Chinh Doan

TULSA, Okla. - People waiting for unemployment benefits said confusion and conflicting information are adding to their frustration.

With thousands of fraudulent claims being investigated, there's a growing concern over phony calls and compromised personal information.

Those applying for unemployment benefits, like Tara Dunn, said they are confused about whether they are required to give their social security number over the phone to verify their claim.

Dunn said three out of four people in her family are without a job.

She said when her phone showed a call from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission this week, she was hopeful to finally get benefits.

"He said, 'I need to pull up your case. What is your social?'" recalled Dunn. “I said the first five digits and I kind of stopped and thought, 'I mean, that's not right. They're not supposed to ask that. Their website says they don't.'”

Dunn said she did give the caller her claim number instead, but they ended the conversation after the man said he couldn't find her file.

Dunn said she then called OESC to find out whether that was a scammer and was shocked to find out what happened to her case.

"She said he put down that I refused to verify my social security number and that he couldn't help me,” said Dunn. “So, he closed it out instead of putting me back in the queue so that maybe somebody else could call me."

June Rogers, who is self-employed, said she also had a similar call from someone claiming to be with OESC.

She said the caller asked for her social security number and said he'd call her back.

"I had them look into it, and they said they could not find anyone that called me from the unemployment office, so that made me nervous,” said Rogers. “Now, my social security number is out there."

Others still waiting for their claims also told News On 6 they have questions on how to protect themselves from scammers and what information they are supposed to use to verify.

News On 6 tried to get clarification from OESC. A spokesperson sent this statement:

"There could be instances where an OESC employee could need to verify an applicant's identity by asking for their SSN over the phone. That being said, if a claimant refuses to give their SSN in a phone call, the individual's claim will not be closed. At this moment, OESC is revising the information and the script that our call center utilizes to ensure that the claimants can differentiate between a legitimate OESC employee calling and someone who is committing fraud."

News On 6 asked OESC to clarify the above statement since it appears to contradict what happened in Dunn's case. OESC has not responded.

OESC said it is working with the FBI and OSBI on this issue and encourages claimants to report any suspected fraudulent activity to fraud@oesc.state.ok.us.