Hank Investigates: Unemployment Lost in the System

When you apply for unemployment, the goal is to get paid, so why did the agency want one local man to pay them? Hank found he is one of many Massachusetts residents who say their case got lost in the system. Hank Investigates.

Greg’s now a stay at home dad, furloughed from his marketing job because of the pandemic.

“This comes along, and my life gets turned upside down,” Greg said.

He’s taking care of the kids so his wife, a teacher, can handle her online classes.

With his family only getting one paycheck, Greg says, for the first time in his life, he applied for unemployment.

He got quite a surprise when he did.

“There was already was an account, and it had a phone number and email I had no association with or address,” Greg said.

Greg says when he called the Department of Unemployment Assistance, they informed him someone had fraudulently used his social security number in 2013 to get unemployment benefits.

“Do you know anything about this?” Hank asked.

“Absolutely nothing. No,” Greg said.

Greg made more calls and says eventually the department told him his current claim would be approved.

But instead, he got a bill saying he owed the state more than $16,000.

“They are claiming that I had to pay back the $16,000 that was fraudulently given out,” Greg said.

They thought he was the bad guy.

“I’ve wasted probably 100 hours of time where I’m just standing there on hold or getting hung up on or transferred to somebody else that doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Greg said.

But and our investigation found months after Governor Baker promised to fix the unemployment process, Greg is just one of the desperate Massachusetts residents who is still lost in the system.

7 investigates is inundated with complaints.

Viewers writing in, “You get hung up on,” “A month later still with no money,” “It’s been eight weeks since I applied,” “We’re running out of food and going to be homeless soon.”

And Greg’s email: “The system… fails me daily.”

The unemployment department told us they couldn’t discuss specific cases.

But after we contacted the governor and attorney general’s offices, Greg found out he’s finally going to get paid in full, and his account shows he no longer owes anything.

“How did this how well did this system work for you?” Hank asked.

“It hasn’t worked at all,” Greg said.

When we asked the Department of Unemployment Assistance what we should tell all the viewers who contact us saying they’re lost in the system and need help, they simply sent us the information for the agency’s call center, hours, and website:

All customer service requests should be made through the Department of Unemployment call center at 877-626-6800. The call center is open from Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm and on Saturday between 8 am and 4 pm.

Additional resources for those who believe they may be eligible for unemployment assistance can be found at mass.gov/unemployment. Included on that page is a multilingual resources link which includes additional unemployment information in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese, among other languages.

Those who believe they may be a victim of unemployment fraud should head to mass.gov/unemployment-fruad to report the fraud and learn more about identity protection resources.

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