Texas Workforce Commission works to help identity theft victims

People filing unemployment claims are discovering they have been the victim of the rampant identity theft involving fraudulent claims.

The Texas Workforce Commission is now working to get the word out about what people should do if their unemployment claim was flagged for fraud. TWC issued guidance Thursday about the company they are using to help victims of identity theft get their unemployment called ID.me.

For people like Joseph Santos, the TWC is currently a safety net with a giant hole. Santos has done everything TWC requested since he was laid off two months ago. Yet his unemployment is held up because a criminal previously filed a fraudulent claim in his name.

"You get to a point you are doing everything they are asking you expect some sort of confirmation they received it. I just want to know where I'm at, are they reviewing it?" Santos said.

Santos sent FOX 4 an image showing he verified his identity through the state contracted company id.me two weeks ago, yet he has still not received any information from TWC about his claim.

"Process of ID.me seems pretty streamlined. It should automatically say this is the real Joseph Santos," he said.

James Bernsen, a spokesman for TWC says staff is working as quickly as it can to resolve these issues, while still protecting Texas tax dollars.

"This really should not be happening. Reality is a large number of fraud claims are attacking the system. Criminals are trying to steal your identity, trying to steal the state of Texas's money," Bernsen said.

Bernsen says even after legitimate filers gets their identity verified through ID.me, there are steps the state has to take and a response should come in two to three weeks.

"Unfortunately innocent victims, people who need that money are delayed getting that money because of actions for fraudsters," he said.

A second issue people have told FOX 4 about is they are receiving deadlines to contact TWC or risk losing their benefits.

"Started immediately calling, it said they are overwhelmed with calls, please try again later. I probably made 1,000 calls that day," said Noreen Barto.

Bernsen says if people cannot get through to TWC before their deadline, let the agency know about your attempts once you do get through.

"We recognize it is difficult to get through when people have a deadline and cannot get through, we take that into account," Bernsen said.