I-Team 8

ID.me CEO explains delays in unemployment benefits in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The state hired ID.me in October to verify people’s identities before they file for unemployment benefits.

The goal was to cut down on unemployment fraud.

Blake Hall, the chief executive officer of ID.me, said Monday that it is working as fast as it can on Indiana’s needs. A handful of News 8 viewers have cited problems with getting their identifications verified as a primary issue when applying for jobless benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hall said, “When you talk about workforce agencies, about 90% of the users who verify their claims will go through in real time and that process takes about 5 minutes. The other 10% or so might have to go into video chat to upload documents and that could be for folks who don’t have any credit history, or they don’t have a phone, any kind of tenure. These checks are very, very important to make sure there aren’t organized crime rings that are just taking personal data and using it to file a claim to defraud taxpayers in Indiana.”

 Jim Ensley has been out of work since last fall. He had received unemployment benefits without any issue until the state adopted a new ID verification program.   

“They just couldn’t get my documents. I downloaded everything, and it never would verify. It never would go in. They never would accept it,” Ensley said. 

So through a series of verification processes, the company is making sure to properly identify people attempting to file. The problem, for Ensley and other people, is the system has been overwhelmed at times. The wait time to talk to a company representative varies from a few minutes to several hours. For Ensley, it has been five weeks of frustrations. He and several others he works with have been ping-ponged between the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and ID.me.   

“There (are) several families, we do not … have not been verified,” Ensley said.

Salena Adams has been out of work since October and had been receiving unemployment until the state required a recertification of her identification.  

“So in other words, I had to recertify my information. Nothing has changed. Nothing is different. It’s just that they subcontracted this company to do our ID verification. That’s the difference,” Adams said. 

The ID.me CEO said the company has grown very quickly in the past several months. The company is headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia, a Washington, D.C. suburb. In Indiana, they have been asked to recertified past claims while processing new ones. They are bringing in additional states and hiring close to 250 people this month.  

Hall said, “It’s not a question of being ready or not. These agencies are between a rock and hard place, where they go, “Do I continue to pay out hundreds of thousands of fraudulent claims that are bleeding taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars on a weekly basis’ or ‘Do I go back and rescreen them?” 

The CEO said the wait times and slower verifications are the result of making sure taxpayer dollars are going to the right people. He said once the recertification of past claims is completed, certification times will speed up.