PNS National Newscast

Audio Activation
"Siri, play the Public News Service (podcast)"
"Hey Google, play the Public News Service podcast"
"Alexa, play Public News Service podcast"
or "Alexa, what's my news flash?" once you set it up in the Alexa app

2020Talks

Audio Activation
"Siri, play the 2020Talks podcast"
"Hey Google, play the 2020Talks podcast"
"Alexa, play Two-Thousand-Twenty Talks podcast"
or "Alexa, what's my news flash?" once you set it up in the Alexa app

Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - September 23, 2020 


U.S. COVID-19 deaths double in last 4 months as total tops 200,000; poll workers in short supply as Texas registers a record number of voters.


2020Talks - September 23, 2020 


Mitt Romney supports putting a Supreme Court nominee to a vote. Plus, $20 million raised so far to pay court fees, fines for returning citizens to vote after being incarcerated.

Unemployment Fraud During Crisis Hinders Process for Legit Claims

Unemployment fraud has proved costly in some states during the pandemic. For example, in Washington state, $650 million in jobless benefits were distributed to people filing false claims. (Adobe Stock)
Unemployment fraud has proved costly in some states during the pandemic. For example, in Washington state, $650 million in jobless benefits were distributed to people filing false claims. (Adobe Stock)
July 8, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. -- The COVID-19 crisis has produced a number of other serious issues, and one is higher cases of unemployment fraud. Bogus claims have surged in South Dakota, and state officials say it slows the process for those who desperately need help.

Over an eight-week period, according to the state Department of Labor and Regulation, it saw more than 50,000 initial unemployment claims, compared with about 3,000 over the same stretch in normal times. Department Secretary Marcia Hultman said the higher numbers, coupled with the added $600 a week in federal assistance, have created more targets for fraud.

"There's more money on the table, and so it makes it -- I hate to say it -- maybe a little more worth somebody's time to try to commit fraud," she said. "So we have, as well as increased claim numbers, seen increased incidences of fraud."

Hultman said they usually see a handful of fraud cases each week, but now average 250 a week. That puts a strain on the office, requiring more staff and time to investigate suspicious claims. This means people legitimately seeking jobless benefits could go longer without income.

For a potential victim whose claim has been flagged, Hultman said, her office usually is able to detect quickly that fraud has been committed by someone else, allowing the claim to proceed. Federal stimulus money has allowed her to bolster staffing, but she said navigating the current wave of demands isn't easy.

"It is like a snake has swallowed a beach ball, and we are just slowly moving that beach ball of claims through the process," she said. "But if we have to take individuals off of processing the claim to then investigate fraud, it's going to slow us down."

Even if they can hire additional staff, she said, it takes a lot of time to train them and get them started. Department officials have said the public can help by notifying them or local authorities immediately if they think someone has stolen their identity and is using it to file an unemployment claim.

The South Dakota fraud alert is online at dlr.sd.gov.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - SD