ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local business is caught in the middle of Workforce Solutions unemployment claims from people who have never even worked there. Jade Enterprises is a local construction company that employs project managers for remodeling and design. They say there’s been no recent job cuts and most of their employees have worked there for years.
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“We’ve had most of them for a long time, maybe 20-25 years. We know every single employee we’ve had,” said Debra Speck, co-owner of Jade Enterprises. “There hasn’t been all that many in the company itself, and to see an odd name to come through and to say, ‘cook’, that they were a cook and in the restaurant industry, I’m just trying to figure out, well how did that get to us and why do so many of those keep coming to us.”
Speck says about eight of these claims have come in via letters over the last couple weeks and she’s heard from other companies experiencing the same problem. With new reports of fraudulent claims within the department, Speck says it’s concerning and she wonders if someone is using their business name to collect unemployment.
More so, she also thinks these new claims could be the result of a computer glitch. Still, she’s concerned about their unemployment insurance rates rising for something that’s not their fault.
“Is it possible it could actually charge my account and I’m going to be fighting this forever? You know, whenever something goes wrong, you spend so many hours trying to correct it,” said Speck. “Will this somehow end up charging my unemployment account that we pay into and ultimately raising our rates?”
According to today’s report by the Legislative Finance Committee, New Mexico’s fraud cases have more than doubled in recent years and the state does not require annual fraud detection reports. The report says the department overpaid unemployment benefits by around $250 million during the pandemic and an estimated $133 million of that is related to fraudulent claims.
We asked Workforce Solutions what’s being done in the meantime to help these businesses like Jade Enterprises. They tell us that any business receiving letters for someone who’s never worked there, can contact the fraud hotline or Unemployment Insurance Operations Center.
Speck says she’s tried calling the department and despite making plenty of calls, she still has yet to get through to any representative that can resolve the issue. Workforce Solutions says they’re still working on hiring more staff for the Unemployment Insurance Operations Center and hired an additional 20 people earlier this week.