69. How do you verify your identity?
In May of 2020, DUA announced that as part of a national unemployment fraud scheme, criminal enterprises in possession of stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches had been attempting to file large numbers of illegitimate claims in Massachusetts. See Press Release, Dept. of Unemployment Assistance, Nationwide Unemployment Scam Targets Massachusetts Claimants (05/27/2020), https://www.mass.gov/news/nationwide-unemployment-scam-targets-massachusetts-claimants. This rise of fraud in the UI system created a new focus on claimant identity verification, and resulted in delays and denials of benefits for legitimate claimants.
DUA implemented an identity verification process for regular UI and PUA. DUA contracted with ID.me, a third-party vendor, to verify claimants’ identity for regular UI. Claimants should have received notice and instruction on how to verify their identity through ID.me. DUA handled identity verification for PUA claims internally, by sending a fact-finding questionnaire asking claimants to upload their relevant identity verification documents. See DUA PUA ID Verification Instructions, available at https://www.mass.gov/doc/pua-fact-finding-for-id-verification/download.
In February 2022, following the example of the IRS, DUA stopped using the algorithmic facial recognition component of ID.me.
For both regular UI and PUA, claimants were required to provide color copies of the front and back of a government issued photo ID and front and back of Social Security card. If the address on the claimant’s ID did not match the address on file with DUA, claimants also had to provide proof of address, e.g., lease, utility bill, bank statement. See BR-N6-F958-KFJ2 (10/2/20) (Board finding PUA claimant satisfied identity verification requirement with a birth certificate, a color photograph of social security card, an expired Ohio driver’s license, and letters/bills corroborating name and address).
If claimants did not verify their identity, DUA issued an indefinite disqualification under §25(a). Good cause does not apply when a claimant fails to submit documentation verifying the claimant’s identity. If a claimant later supplies the necessary documentation, the issue will be re-determined. See AH c. 2, §1(G).