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New homeowner finds fraudulent unemployment benefit cards in mailbox

In Parker, a new home purchase led to a surprise find in the mailbox, and the Colorado Dept. of Labor and Unemployment knew about the issue before it was reported.

PARKER, Colo. — New home purchases usually mean mailboxes full of "welcome to the neighborhood" ads and coupons.

In Parker, a new home purchase for Linda and Tim Steward led to a different discovery in the mailbox.

"When I got done with closing, I came over here to check the mail and opened the mailbox and it was jammed full," Tim Steward said.

"These are ReliaCards," said Linda Steward.

Inside their new locked mailbox were a dozen unemployment debit cards for a dozen different people claiming to live at their address.

"They got postmarked from the 29th of January through the 23rd of February," said Tim Steward. "We have a lot of legitimate mail for the people who lived here, so we have pretty good confidence that the names are right, and none of them are in these stacks."

Unsure what if they should return to sender or open them, Linda Steward just used the names she could see through the mail envelope window.

"This morning, I just decided to take it into my own hands, and I went and got on the website and entered in the names and the addresses," said Linda Steward.

And that's what needs to be done.

Since the people whose names are on the envelopes likely have no idea that their identities were used to file fraudulent unemployment claims, someone has to report them on their behalf.

RELATED: Colorado labor officials: $254 million in unemployment benefits paid since Phase 2 rollout

RELATED: 'We're now in the fraud business': More scam unemployment claims have been filed in Colorado than legit ones

Although, the state's new unemployment system caught this fraud.

"The biggest benefit of launching MyUI+ was within the fraud detection and prevention sphere," said Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) Chief of Staff Daniel Chase.

Yes, the state's unemployment computer system, which has contributed to delayed payments for Coloradans waiting for unemployment benefits, identified this fraud before it was reported because of so many names at the same address.

"It will automatically set a payment hold on the claim, and that can't be released until they verify their identity with us, which the fraudster wouldn't be able to do," said Chase. "I generally give the number of about $60 million a week in fraudulent payments are saved by having launched MyUI+."

He said that the system has about 50 indicators that will automatically flag a claim as potentially fraudulent. Another indicator would be claims filed for from different IP addresses.

Even though the computer caught these, it's important for people to know if their names were used to try to file for unemployment, so they can alert the credit bureaus of potential identity theft.

"In this case, these 12 people may never know because we don't have (accurate) contact information for all people within our system," said Chase. "These individuals would not know their identities have been compromised and they need to take protections to protect their own identities."

RELATED: Verify: If you don't need one, you shouldn't create an unemployment account to prevent fraud

RELATED: Who do you call about your problems with CDLE's out-of-state call center?

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