When the pandemic hit, Camille Dehaney says she became unemployed for the first time in her life.
“It’s very aggravating because I’ve been working all my life,” she said.
She told NBC 6 she lost her job in the hospitality industry in early April and tried to apply for unemployment benefits.
“Everything appeared to be fine until about the third week of April,” she said.
That was when Camille says she learned there was a fraud alert on her account and that she had to verify her identity, something she says she had been trying to do for several weeks.
“Nothing has changed,” she said. “My claimant ID is still locked. My application is still pending.”
According to data posted Friday on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s dashboard, more than 144,000 claims were in verification queues.
“I just keep getting the runaround, basically,” said Katie Spaulding, a Broward county resident.
Katie told NBC 6 Responds she had spent the past several weeks trying to resolve an issue with her identity.
“They ask for a copy of your social security, your driver’s license, my W-2, which I’ve sent them over email over 12 times and my status is still the same,” Katie said. “It still says I need to verify my identity.”
Both women say they were told to call 888-993-9713 – the same number several other viewers said they had tried, without success.
“Right now, I’m like my bank account is pretty much almost empty,” Camille said, adding she had not received any unemployment benefits as of Friday. “I have bills to pay for the next coming months and I don’t even know what’s gonna happen.”
NBC 6 shared with the DEO names and details of viewers who reached out this week, hoping we could help them get their identity verification issues resolved. In an email, a DEO spokesperson said they will have their reemployment assistance team take a look at those cases and also referred to the online identity verification tool the department launched last month, saying, “Individuals who were locked out of their CONNECT account have been notified and provided a direct link to verify their information, so they can access their account and have their Reemployment Assistance claims processed.” The DEO also said those who did not receive a link “…will need to call the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY.”
Both Katie and Camille told NBC 6 they never received an email with the link to that online tool. Camille says she couldn’t get any answers – regardless of which number she calls or how many emails she sends.
“I’ve been waiting since April,” she said. “It’s the end of June. Like how much longer am I supposed to wait? What am I supposed to do with my bills?”
NBC 6 asked the DEO several questions about identity verification issues, including how many people have verified their identity using the online verification tool, but the DEO did not respond to those specific questions.