Michigan residents filing for unemployment being targeted for identity theft

Unemployment agency overwhelmed due to COVID-19

Criminals trying to take advantage of pandemic

DETROIT – The Michigan Unemployment Agency has been overwhelmed these past four months, struggling to serve a record number of people filing for benefits amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It was already bad for many of Michigan’s unemployed, but now the unemployment agency is catching heat for even more problems.

READ: Michigan investigating if new hires are stealing from Unemployment Insurance Agency

Often times, people couldn’t get anyone on the phone. Many who need a check haven’t received one from the start and now ID theft is on the rise.

Detroit resident Kendra Fly said her multiple sclerosis slows her down. She lost her job during the shut down, then she said someone stole her identity.

“I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. It’s frustrating for me. I tried to get through to the agency,” Fly said. “If I did get through, they hung up.”

Oliver Gantt, with the Thousands Strong community group said they were able to find out who was accessing Fly’s benefits and where the money was going. Fly still hasn’t been able to get to those benefits herself though.

Local 4 reached out to the unemployment agency. We did not receive a call back, but we did get a statement from the director. The director said “it’s very disheartening that these criminals are taking advantage of a global pandemic to defraud Michiganders when they need unemployment benefits the most.”

READ: Michigan taps Deloitte to expand unemployment capacity, identify fraud

About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.