KS Dept. of Labor addresses concern about some valid claims marked as fraudulent

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 8:23 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Department of Labor has stopped nearly 160,000 fraudulent claims over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But how many of those claims are truly fraudulent? Eyewitness News learned it’s possible that some valid claims are flagged as fraud and in some cases, this is why KDOL stopped payments.

KDOL flags more than 2,000 fraudulent claims every day. Justin Kirby said he is among those who’ve had a legitimate claim that was flagged.

“I was told there was a fraud flag on my account after being on hold for hours and hours,” Kirby said. “It’s more frustrating when someone tells you you’re a fraud. It just causes extreme anxiety, it’s kept me up at night. I’ve lost sleep at night.”

To fix the problem, Kirby needs to confirm his identity, but he can’t get through to the department of labor on the phone or online. As the single father waited for a call back from KDOL, his utilities were shut off.

“My daughter is in tears, and she doesn’t understand. She’s five years old,” Kirby said. ‘Daddy, why is the water shut off?’ “As a parent, it dropped my pride. When your water gets shut off, and your daughter can’t take a bath, that was the last straw to possibly seek some kind of lawsuit or representation. I’m not looking to get rich, I just want what’s owed to me, and I want everybody else in Kansas to be taken care of.”

KDOL currently has a backlog of about 31,000 Kansans waiting for payments. Eyewitness News asked the labor department how the agency flags fraudulent claims. KDOL Secretary Ryan Wright said it’s possible some valid claims are flagged as fraudulent.

“It is possible. It should be a very low percentage, and if that’s happening, there should be a way to remove those flags,” Wright said. “What we don’t do is proactively reach out to folks because if it’s a fraudulent claim, we don’t want to tip the fraudsters off.”

He said if someone like Kirby filed a legitimate claim that was flagged, they can call into the department of labor’s call centers and talk to specialists to get the flag removed.

Kirby said he’ll keep calling in the effort to get his issue resolved, but he’s frustrated not being able to get through. This is why he’s considering further action.

Wright said he owes it to taxpayers to vet each claim extensively now that the state daily is seeing thousands of fraudulent claims each day. But there is a flip side to that that is slowing the process down and in the end, hurting some honest Kansans.

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