A Garland man may finally have a resolution following months of waiting for unemployment benefits after someone else used his identity to cash in.
The ordeal began over the summer when Charles Marcum collected mail at his mother-in-law’s vacant home. Marcum hadn’t lived there in more than 10 years and said he was alarmed to find letters from the Texas Workforce Commission addressed to him.
Marcum was working at the time and had not applied for benefits.
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“Those letters apparently came in June, July and the first of August,” said Marcum. “I knew that it was there was something fishy going on. I needed to look into it. That's when I called TWC and let them know.”
Marcum said the letters were benefit denials and when he didn’t hear back from TWC, he said he didn’t think much of it.
“My assumption was that I never saw any more letters and it was fixed,” said Marcum.
In late October, Marcum said he was furloughed from his job. He logged onto TWC’s website to apply for unemployment benefits and learned his social security number was in use with another name and password.
“I really thought it was going to be a simple fix,” said Marcum.
Marcum said he notified TWC and followed instructions to prove his identity. Marcum filed a police report with Garland PD and a complaint with the FTC. He checked his credit reports and added fraud alerts.
“I thought if I provided every documentation that they requested for me, which was a proof of residence, driver's license, front and back, Social Security front bank, scanned them, send them to the UI portal and that within three to five days, I would be hearing back from and we could get this thing cleaned up and get rolling on unemployment benefits,” said Marcum.
But, the benefits didn’t come and Marcum kept following up. He said he struggled to reach anyone who could tell him what was happening.
“I have left several voicemails for the examiners. I never get a call back,” said Marcum.
Then, Marcum received a notice of overpayment of benefits from TWC – stating that he’d received an overpayment in the amount of $4,168.
“I haven’t received a penny from them,” said Marcum.
Instead, Marcum said he used savings and tapped into his retirement while waiting on benefits.
“We’re just barely getting by,” said Marcum. “It’s a nightmare.”
TWC spokesperson James Bernsen said victims of ID theft would not be responsible for paying back overpaid benefits and would receive their entitled full benefit amounts.
“When that is cleared up and when those funds are released, they will get backdated to all those funds that they had missed,” said Bernsen. “It's really a matter of going through the process. Unfortunately, just because of the large volume of claims, that process can be a little delayed.”
According to the most recently available numbers, TWC says it took 14,885 submissions on its fraud portal between August 15 and January 5.
Most of the submissions, 8,617, were related to ID theft. TWC estimates the overpayment on fraudulent claims reported by Texans on the portal as $397,601 during that period.
TWC said the portal complaint data only paints part of the picture.
The agency said it has other internal checks that block fraud. Between internal checks and portal reports, TWC said it saw 19,062 ID fraud-related claims in 2020 and prevented $197 million in fraudulent payouts.
Friday, Marcum said he received a call from TWC telling him his benefits are on the way. Marcum said TWC assured him he won't be on the hook for the overpayment amount and he will receive backdated benefits.
Marcum still doesn't know how someone used his identity to collect benefits, but the benefits he needs are now on the way.
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