Bucks County Courier Times: Few claimants with frozen benefits confirming identities

Excerpted from Jo Ciavaglia of the Bucks County Courier Times

Two weeks after Pennsylvania launched a new layer of fraud checks, most independent contractors and gig workers whose unemployment benefits were temporarily frozen have yet to verify their identities.

Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said Monday it’s too soon to say if the lag suggests that most of those claims were fraudulently filed. 

The agency doesn’t know how many of the 117,000 claimants whose Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits were impacted have received notices asking them to verify their identities with the newly hired outside contractor, but most have not done so, Oleksiak said.

Only 10% of claimants whose benefits were withheld have completed the identification confirmation process through ID.me, the digital identification protection firm the state brought onboard earlier this month, the secretary said. He could not confirm if the 10% represents the 117,000 claims or only a portion of them.

“We are a little hesitant to draw conclusions,” Oleksiak added.

Read the full article on the Courier Times here.