DENVER — To prevent unemployment fraud, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) now requires everyone seeking unemployment to verify their identity through ID.me.
That requires an uploaded photo of a government-issued ID, a selfie and a social security number.
Even if the information is accurate, it will not always guarantee an immediate verification.
"I've been shut out of it for the past two weeks," said unemployed claimant Terri Kirby. "My license and my birth certificate have slightly different names on them, and so I needed to do a video verification."
The "trusted referee" is a verification that requires a virtual meeting with an ID.me representative.
Kirby has had to wait multiple times, the most recent wait time she shared was 4 hours and 41 minutes.
"I submitted everything successfully. I got one of those messages that the wait time is going to be in excess of 5 hours," said Kirby. "I was waiting for a referee to come through."
Kirby said she spoke with a referee, who asked that she remove the new address label on the back of her driver's license. Since she has moved, she has a label on the back of her license with her current address.
She said after she uploaded that photo during her call with the referee, she received the 4 hour, 41 minutes wait notice.
"I'm just in a quagmire that I can't seem to break free of, and in the meantime, no benefits are being paid. And not just for me. I just want to make that point. There are many, many, many people who are dealing with this mess," said Kirby. "CDLE has failed the state of Colorado so multiple times this year. There have been so many situations, this is just the latest."
*One to two business days is going on my fifth week," said unemployment claimant Lawrence Campos.
Campos is an out-of-work Denver Parks and Recreation employee since the recreation centers are still closed. He has been waiting five weeks for unemployment payments that he had been receiving prior to ID.me verification.
*Rent-wise, I don't really know what to tell my landlord. I can't say, 'Hey, can you wait another week? Just give me another week. Just give me another week," said Campos.
He said he has not been notified that he needs to talk to a "trusted referee."
"I want to go back to work. I don't want to be doing this whole jumping through hoops and uploading my information and my driver's license to a company that I have never even heard of, much less I've heard nothing about," said Campos. "I'm just happy that somebody called me back, granted it was you, you know, the news."
Now, he said he has added stress because he sent his personal information to a company online, with nothing in return.
"I don't even know where these pictures are even getting sent to, especially my driver's license picture that I'm uploading," said Campos. "One, I'm not getting paid, and now I'm having to send my information somewhere and I don't even know where it's going."
"The user is providing consent for their information to be shared in order to gain access to their benefits," said ID.me Public Sector Senior Vice President Pete Eskew. "We never sell data to a third party, whether it's an advertiser or any other component. We never sell data."
ID.me now provides identification verification for 25 states.
It is a privately-owned company, and according to a securities and exchange filing, it just received $100 million in financing in late March.
"We, in fact, are not making any money by working with all of our state partners. We are spending all of the money we receive and investing back into our business," said Eskew.
He said there are three aspects that ID.me looks at and compares to determine verification:
- Government-issued ID
- Phone records
- Social security number
"We corroborate that against financial records with your social security number, to ensure that all three of those legs of the stool are in place, to say that this is your photo ID, with a phone that you've been paying the phone bill for the last couple of years, with a social security number that checks out in credit records," said Eskew.
What is the purpose of phone records?
"So that we can see that you've been paying that phone bill for the last five, six, seven years, that matches your name," said Eskew. "We do have plenty of people on family plans that can get through, if you have access, if you're listed on the phone bill."
If you have not been the primary account holder on a phone bill or a credit bureau has a different address than your ID, it is possible you have to go through the "trusted referee."
"It's disproportionately impacting younger Americans or people that have not established credit records," said Eskew.
He said that nine-out-of-10 claimants are successful through the automated system. The state puts the number closer to 85%.
"A number of states, including Colorado, have sent about a years' worth of data and a years' worth of claimants to our log-in in the past week in order to combat the fraud that these states are all facing," said Eskew.
That, he said, is the reason for longer wait times for a "trusted referee."
"Do we pay out roughly 30%-40% of our applicants that are committing fraud or do we send an unforeseen demand amount of people to the ID.me platform, that will likely take longer for our legitimate claims to get through?" said Eskew.
He said the company is hiring 150 new call center employees for its Virginia-based office, and another 500 in a new Florida call center.
If claimants want to avoid hours-long waits with people calling in from 25 states, Eskew suggests getting an early start.
"My tip would be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday around 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. East Coast time," said Eskew.
In Colorado, that would be 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
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