‘I just feel like things shouldn’t be that hard’: People in Piedmont having trouble with unemployment verification

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — FOX8 has been flooded with emails regarding the new ID.me verification process from the department of employment security.

Some people like Holly Atkins-Holyfield call the system confusing and say their unemployment benefits have been halted as a result of not knowing how to utilize it.

“I’ve never had any problems of anybody trying to identify who I was any other time,” Atkins-Holyfield said. “Then it was just kind of like ‘oh well, you can’t be identified. We need more information.’ I’m thinking I’m not really sure what other information I can provide,”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce Employment Services office is being slammed with new requests each day because of the pandemic.

A representative told FOX8 that they are doing what they can to make the process as efficient as possible.

But people relying on these benefits said the department isn’t doing enough to explain and monitor the process before cutting people off from benefits they desperately need.

“I had sent my W-2 a total of three times, and they were always getting kicked back for one reason another,” Atkins-Holyfield said.

The ID.me verification process is frustrating users who are being asked to upload secondary documents to prove their identity.

“When you’re uploading documents, they actually send you a link through text message to take the photos then you go back to their page. The photos load then you wait for upwards of five hours or more to hopefully video chat with someone,” Atkins-Holyfield said.

For the past two weeks, Atkins-Holyfield has had her documents sent back multiple times by the system for different reasons-including bad lighting or just “doesn’t meet the requirements.”

“If they don’t approve your documents, they won’t even video chat with you. They tell you to reupload it, and you get sent back to the line for another five or six hours,” Atkins-Holyfield said.

The real issue is that she’s no longer getting checks despite the fact that she’s been on unemployment since June 2020 and wasn’t cut off until she was recently asked to re-verify her identity through ID.me.

“The lady that I talked to then told me I had 14 days, and it wouldn’t affect my payment. Come the next week, I couldn’t even file my claim, and here I am still and haven’t received a payment,” she said.

She’s confused why this would pertain to people who haven’t reached the 14-days and have already been on unemployment prior to the implementation of ID.me.

So FOX8 took her question to the DES.

They assure the verification process is to protect recipients from identity fraud and they are “working closely with ID.me, our identity verification partner, to make the process as efficient as possible for claimants.”

“Every claim is different, and eligibility must be determined by the specifics of each claim. If there are issues with a claim, it can take longer to determine eligibility and make payments,” according to the DES.

After two weeks, Atkins-Holyfield said she finally got to meet virtually with an ID.me representative to get her verification Monday night.

But she still doesn’t know when she will start getting her unemployment money again.

“There are people that are still going through the effects of the pandemic and again, it’s just one of those things where I guess I just feel like things shouldn’t be that hard when they weren’t that hard in the beginning,” Atkins-Holyfield said.

Atkins-Holyfield is not the only one experiencing this either. FOX8 spoke to a man in his 60s who has been unemployed since November. He said he’s been waiting to get his identification verified by ID.me since January.

He and another woman who has been waiting for a month to get verified said they’ve even reached out to members of Congress and state Senators to get help with the issue.

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