ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Computer hackers never give up redirecting state unemployment benefits into their own pockets. An Anderson County woman is the latest victim as her benefits were hacked not once, but twice over the last year and four months. She’s been told her case is under review.
The State Labor Department says there’s a backlog of cases under investigation. It was last year and again this year that Tracy Jackson, a single mother of two adult children, was notified that her unemployment benefits information had been compromised. She had not changed the information herself, apparently, hackers got into her account.
Jackson’s patience with the state is running thin, it’s been an emotional ordeal waiting for her unemployment benefits to resume. The Tennessee Labor Dept. said she was “eligible for benefits” in the spring of last year. Her steady job was eliminated by the pandemic, and she started receiving her benefits.
“June of 2020. Everything went fine up until October. I got locked out of my account,” she said.
The partial weekly payment of $70 wasn’t a lot of money, but she says it was better than nothing.
“My payments stopped coming. I had gone back to work a couple of days a week, so I thought it was because I was a part-time employee. But come to find out, in February, I found out my account had been hacked. They said that the account got hacked in October, then it got hacked again in February. I’m still not getting my benefits. They were actually sending them to another person,” she said.
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She says she followed the state’s direction by sending all of the requested documents. Then, months went by. She said finally, in mid-July a Labor Dept. employee talked with her. “She told me that my account had been hacked twice. She checked the IP addresses and they were bouncing all over the country, other countries, and that she would file a claim for identity theft. I sent my ID, social security card front and back.” She again sent the state all the information it requested, but that was three months ago.
Divorced and living alone, she’s had to depend on her mother, brother, and friends. And today she finds part-time jobs through a temp service. “I actually got lucky to pick up a little bit of work there. I just have to take it where I get it. Whether it’s shoveling dirt or cleaning toilets, it doesn’t matter right now as long as I can get some work.”
Jackson adds she keeps contacting the state asking how much longer? “I call and they tell me it’s being investigated. They would send it upstairs and it would be investigated. I have verified everything they need from me. I would just have to wait.”
“I would just like to know something, yeah,” she said. “It’s not a lot of people it would make a big difference in my life.”
If you believe you’re a victim of fraud, report it to the Department of Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Unit, that’s what Jackson has done. The state says it takes time to investigate a report, and, any missed payments will be returned.
Now, to keep your account secure, the Labor Dept. recommends using a separate email for unemployment claims, changing passwords regularly and staying off public wifi. They say they are working to resolve Jackson’s issue.