If you are applying for unemployment benefits for the first time, or if you get locked out of Florida’s online unemployment portal, you are asked to verify your identity using a third-party site called ID.me.
But some viewers told NBC 6 Responds their accounts remained locked, even after completing the identity verification process.
“Sent everything in and I was like great, it comes up as like, proof of success,” Ronald Resnick told NBC 6.
Resnick said it’s been more than a month since he applied for unemployment benefits.
After verifying his identity using the ID.me site, he said his account appeared locked in the CONNECT portal.
“When I got in there, the ID.me account said locked, and it had a notification that said, please contact ID.me to verify your identity. I am looking at that thinking I already did that,” Resnick said.
Florida was the first state to contract with ID.me to help verify the identities of people seeking unemployment benefits as a way to prevent fraud.
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The company has since expanded to 26 states.
According to state records, Florida has already spent more than $1,990,000, but the DEO told us, “the Department is still working through the logistics of fully integrating the ID.me identity verification tool to the CONNECT system.”
Since its launch last year, NBC 6 Responds has heard from people locked out of their accounts.
“Even though I am right, and I did everything I was supposed to do, it’s just not doing anything, and I can’t get anyone on the phone,” Resnick said.
After using ID.me and verifying his account manually with a DEO representative, Resnick said his account is still locked, and he can’t get his unemployment benefits.
NBC 6 Responds reached out to ID.me about the issues people are reporting.
In a series of emails, the company’s CEO Blake Hall told us, “Regrettably, criminals target state workforce agencies, including Florida DEO, to take over the logins tied to applicants' accounts. When Florida DEO detects this activity, they may suspend the account, even if the user has already been verified. For clarity, the Florida DEOs login system is not related to ID.me's service. We are working with Florida DEO to combat this new threat vector and to provide a unified experience between identity verification and login protection similar to the end-to-end services we provide to our federal agency partners.”
He went on to say, “Florida DEO is updating their messaging… to make clear to individuals who have been verified with ID.me, and subsequently locked out of their DEO account after ID.me verification, that ID.me is not what is locking their account.” In a separate email, Hall added, “For those verified individuals who are locked out, we have assisted thousands of individuals by escalating them to the state in order to reinforce that their accounts are verified. Longer-term, we are working with Florida DEO to unify the login experience so the verified status is a seamless experience and not separated from login events."
NBC 6 Responds asked the DEO what a claimant should do if they are locked out of their account, and a DEO representative told us, “If you have successfully completed the verification process with ID.me, you do not need to re-verify with ID.me.” He went on to say, “If you’ve already verified your identity with ID.me and your CONNECT account remains locked, please visit the Reemployment Assistance Help Center, to notify the Department that your Reemployment Assistance claim is locked.”
Once in the Reemployment Assistance Help Center, the representative said you should select “I am a Claimant,” and then select “Account Login Assistance.” Lastly, select the next series of options that match your login issue to notify the department.
This is a process NBC 6 Responds followed, but it rerouted us back to the ID.me verification page.
We reached out to the DEO about this latest error and we are still waiting to hear back.
The department wouldn’t say how many people are currently locked out of their accounts, telling NBC 6 Responds it does not have this data “readily available.”
As for Resnick, he said he was told to call the DEO Fraud Hotline but said that number is just a recorded message that sends you back to the state’s website.
NBC 6 Responds also tried contacting the hotline number but we were unable to get through a representative.
We reached out to the DEO about Resnick’s case and a representative told us they would share his information with their Reemployment Assistance team for further review.