At first, we thought former KPA staff member Buffy Sams had left the Kentucky School Boards Association. After more than 20 years as assistant bookkeeper for KPA/KPS, Buffy resigned three or so years ago to take a job at KSBA.
Opening the mail one morning, we had an unemployment insurance claim “filed” by Buffy Sams. Since she had resigned on her own from KPA/KPS, and had been gone for a while, we notified the unemployment office that we would refuse the claim.
We thought nothing more about it until a couple of weeks later when the CPA’s office called Bonnie Howard. “We’ve received an unemployment insurance claim filed by David” (that would be yours truly, David T. Thompson). I hadn’t resigned, hadn’t left the job after more than 37 years and had no idea what in the world was going on.
I filled out the claim notice that I was still employed, full-time, had not resigned, wasn’t going to, and returned it to the unemployment insurance office.
Last week, we received two more, one on Rachel McCarty, one on Holly Willard. Rachel’s claim was a little more advanced. It was notifying her that her unemployment insurance claim had been approved and she would begin receiving benefits. We never did receive the initial form, asking if her claim was valid with a chance to deny it. I think I know Rachel well enough that she wouldn’t have done anything fraudulently. She was the first employee I hired, coming to KPS straight out of high school in September, 1984. As I recall, the state notified Rachel that there was a problem with her claim, however, because the social security number didn’t match up.
With those two latter claims, it was time to notify the KPA Board of what was going on. And surprisingly, the KPA staff wasn’t the only one affected by fraudulent claims. Several Board members said the same thing had happened at their newspaper or corporate offices.
This week came word that Governor Beshear is shutting down the unemployment insurance for four days because fraudulent claims are widespread. When we heard about the claims for Rachel and Holly, Bonnie contacted the CPA’s office, again, and learned they had been told a hacker in Liberia had accessed the state computer system and apparently started filing the claims.
Lesson learned. While many Kentuckians are having problems getting claims filed, some are being notified their “claims” have been approved and they’ll begin receiving benefits.
Rachel, Holly and Bonnie tried numerous times to call the UI office but to no avail. The system is overwhelmed and it would be best to try back later is what the recording said each time.
But we were finally able to get through on a website designed to handle fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. If you receive a notice, or someone on your staff, that’s an obvious fraudulent one, go to https://secure.kentucky.gov/FormServices/UI/Fraud, fill out the form and submit it. Don’t waste your time trying to contact that office by phone. And don’t delay making that contact.