JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Some employed Floridians are receiving unemployment benefits checks from the Department of Economic Opportunity when they never filed for unemployment.
Microsoft software engineer Edward Skrod said he’s never heard of the Department of Economic Opportunity, and had no idea why they were sending him a check for $275 days ago.
“It made me think someone was maybe spoofing my name?” Skrod said.
Realtor Chris Thompson said he also received a check.
“I have no idea how this happened,” Thompson said.
The fear of identity theft looms as these letters contain their personal information, that they never supplied to DEO.
DEO said there has been an increase in fraudulent claims since the new year.
It is unclear if this is a glitch or fraud.
When these men tried to contact DEO, they encounter the struggle so many unemployed Floridians are encountering. They waited for hours on the phone, then couldn’t get in contact with the right person to fix their problem.
“When I tried to contact DEO, I wasn’t able to speak to anybody,” Skrod said.
“You can’t get ahold of anyone because you call and I waited an hour twice,” Thompson said.
Risdon Slate said it's not surprising.
Slate is currently employed as a professor but received two unemployment checks in 2020.
This was the only time FCN heard of this issue but had emails and messages coming in throughout February stating they suddenly had the same issue.
“I guess I’m a pioneer,” Slate joked.
Those having this issue now are curious about where he’s at months later.
Slate said he's receiving Facebook messages from people who saw his story and are asking for guidance.
“This hasn’t been resolved,” Slate said. “I’ve done everything I can to make DEO aware of it."
Slate has tried to reach DEO as well as filed a police report for fear of identity theft.
Slate’s checks came in around the time of when stimulus checks were distributed. He mistook the unemployment check for a stimulus check and accidentally cashed it.
He’s trying to give the money back to the DEO, but since he can’t get in contact with anyone, he’s afraid he’ll be accused of fraud.
“The Fraud department has never gotten in touch with me,” Slate said.
If you receive one of these checks, do not cash it.
You can email your claim number listed on the letter from DEO to On Your Sides’ Josslyn Howard, who is collecting the numbers and sending them to DEO to be fixed. Jhoward2@firstcoastnews.com.