Many skeptical as Kansas Department of Labor upgrades website with new security software

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Labor’s website for processing unemployment claims is still dark Monday, but should be back online Tuesday with new security software in place. 

But some fear the upgrades are too little, too late. 

The Kansas Department of Labor won’t say exactly how many fraudulent unemployment claims it’s been hit with but says 250,000 fraud attempts have been stopped. Even still, many targeted by this identity theft are now getting tax bills they said the state should’ve stopped.

Shelly Abker is retired, while her husband still works. The couple is new to Kansas and neither has ever filed for unemployment here. 

So they were confused when they got a letter about their claim for unemployment benefits.

“We knew obviously it wasn’t true, so we just immediately thought something was up and tried to call and just got in the queue and kept just going round and round,” Shelly Abker said.

Her husband contacted his company’s human resources team. They got credit and debit card numbers changed and froze their credit. 

“It’s a big hassle,” Abker said. 

The couple did file a fraud claim, using the Kansas Department of Labor’s portal, but never heard back and repeatedly haven’t been able to reach anyone by phone. 

They were stunned when a tax form arrived Friday, saying they need to pay taxes on more than $1,000 in unemployment money they’d been paid. 

“I was livid that they would send us a 1099 saying he received this money and that now I am responsible to pay the taxes on it. I was livid and know I’m not alone,” Abker said.

Hemant Bhatia’s in the same boat. 

“I thought this should have stopped. I filed the fraud report, and I’m sure my employer challenged the benefits but it seems like there was payments still sent out to the scammers,” Bhatia said.

“It’s unfair and I’m sorry the Kansas Department of Labor has a 1970s portal they’re trying to deal with but that’s not our problem and yet it’s become all of us problem. We’re all dealing with the fact they never upgraded and there’s no security,” Abker said.

Upgrades are happening now and should go live by Tuesday. But fraud victims like Hemant and the Abkers say it’s not enough. 

“I’m not getting the reassurance that this is being handled and things will be back to normal or made right,” Bhatia said.

Starting Monday, there is a new hotline in Kansas you can call to ask questions or dispute a 1099 tax form for unemployment benefits. The new website is set to launch Tuesday. Identity theft victims should call (785) 291-6059 and complete a fraud report here.

If information on a 1099-G form you receive is wrong, call (785) 575-1461 and you should also file a written dispute and send it to: 

1099 Inquiry
Kansas Dept. Of Labor
401 SW Topeka Blvd.
Topeka, KS 66603-3182

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