DENVER (KDVR) – The majority of more than 5,000 accounts flagged or held up by Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment for a possible fraud issue have been or soon will be freed from the holds the department placed on them.
“We have continued to analyze, review, and refine the process related to fraud holds all along to better ensure innocent victims are not caught up in these holds,” said Cher Haavind, the deputy executive director of CDLE.
Last week, Haavind told the FOX31 Problem Solvers the majority of holds would be lifted within the next couple of weeks.
“The release of those holds is a result of that ongoing analysis and review and a result of that work only. We are also working with our vendor to create additional analysis processes that will help expedite the review process,” she said.
While the state’s fraud detection system is aimed at preventing scammers from accessing benefits to which they are not entitled, some people who are legitimately entitled to benefits have been stalled by the system.
“We understand the frustration that folks have been feeling,” said Haavind, who explained that fraud is the most rampant in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which is designed for gig workers and those who are self-employed.
“It’s not a perfect program,” said Haavind. “On one hand, it’s catching fraud, but on the other hand, it might be catching legitimate claims.”
Lori Hell, who helps people repurpose and sell their home furnishings, said she has been stuck in a nightmare for several months after someone stole her identity and used it to order a Reliacard, an unemployment debit card.
Hell said a scammer also filed for a small business loan in her name.
“It’s just never-ending frustration and helplessness. You just feel like you want to scream,” said Hell, who struggled to reach a real person on the phone while she tried to apply for benefits and fix her situation.
Hell said she had been working tirelessly to investigate what happened to her account, but she contacted the Problem Solvers for help when she couldn’t reach a real person to help her in a timely manner.
“I have really been sick over this ever since it started because it’s only getting deeper,” she said.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers reached out to CDLE who then contacted Hell to help resolve some of her issues.
“At this point, the claimant can begin requesting payment for those backdated weeks and should access her claim in the PUA program to begin completing those weekly certification payment requests,” said Haavind of Hell’s case.
Haavind said other people who are having trouble with their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims can contact the PUA Call Center to have their claim flagged for review by a special team. Callers should be prepared to provide additional information to certify their identity, said Haavind.
Haavind said people should be able to reach a real person between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the work week because the call center is staffed by an outside vendor with live agents.
Here is the PUA Claims Customer Support number: 303-536-5615.