(CBS4) - In an effort to combat fraud, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is paying a company called ID.me to verify unemployment claimants' identities, and it has stipulated claimants must verify with ID.me to receive their unemployment payments. Some people are facing up to 10 hours of waiting for help with that verification process, many still unsuccessful and unable to talk to a real person.
In a one-on-one interview with CBS4's Kati Weis, ID.me CEO Blake Hall said those hours-long wait times could soon be a thing of the past.
"Give us a week or two here, and the wait times will be reasonable again," Hall said.
Most people are able to verify their identity without needing to speak to a real person, but for someone who might've recently moved, or someone who just got married and changed their name, there could be an issue, and that person would need to go through a video chat with a trusted referee.
Right now, the average wait time for someone seeking a trusted referee chat is six hours in the evening and two hours in the morning. Hall believes the company will get that down to 30 minutes in the morning and two hours in the evening within two weeks.
Hall's company has contracts with 25 states for identity verification, he says unemployment claimants in Arizona and California went through long waits when those states first got on board, as well.
"For both Arizona and California, the wait times were restored to normal, our operating range that we target is 30 minutes in the morning, to two hours in the peak times and in the afternoon," Hall said.
CBS4 has received more than 200 emails from frustrated unemployment claimants detailing complaints about the company's customer service.
"We care very much, our whole team is working around the clock to process this surge and to make sure that everyone who's eligible gets access to their benefits," Hall said.
Some military people who have already previously verified their identity with ID.me are now receiving error codes and can't complete the verification process to receive unemployment. Hall says his company is working on a remedy for that to automatically email those claimants with a solution.
"What I can confidently say is that our capabilities are the best in the United States of America, relative to any other vendor. That's why 25 states have purchased us over the last six months," Hall told CBS4. "As frustrating as the wait times are for video chat, we are also the only one who has a video chat operation."
Something else ID.me is currently handling - international crime rings in Russia and other countries who are trying to impersonate Americans to steal unemployment dollars. ID.me provided these pictures to CBS4 of fraudsters wearing masks to try to verify their claim.
Hall says the company also monitors the dark web, and has come across ads for criminals selling data packages full of American's personal data to the highest bidder, even mentioning that a state will be using ID.me soon, and to buy fast.
"This is the hardest challenge in my life, and I've been in combat for 15 months in Iraq, hunting all kinds of vehicle bomb networks," Hall said. "We have a lot of Americans who are desperate, including Coloradans, and we care about them, and we're committed to serving them, but we also need to, you know, keep Ivan out of America's resources."
According to public documents obtained by CBS4, the CDLE has paid ID.me $312,848.58 for its services so far.
The CDLE says its partnership with ID.me is critical to prevent more dollars from being paid out to criminals.
In the flood of emails to CBS4 in the last two days, many people reported that even once they get through the process of verifying their identity, their unemployment account is still locked with the CDLE.
Watch CBS4 Investigator Kati Weis answer some questions about ID.me troubles:
Hall recommends people look for the blue tab at the top of their username homepage that says, "I verified via ID.me but my state workforce agency hasn't updated my claim."
In a written statement to CBS4, the CDLE says, "Our investigations unit is looking into any claim that has been verified via ID.me yet still has a hold. Each one of these cases has a unique situation that needs to be investigated manually, so this process takes time. Of course we are dedicated to making sure we are providing eligible claimants the funds they need to weather the financial impacts of the pandemic. It's important to note that we have seen bold and fearless fraudsters engage with the local media. We do not doubt that what folks are sharing reflects their experience as they see it. But these claims and situations are complex, and what the claimant is sharing may not be the full picture of the issues on their claim, of their eligibility or the accuracy of the information they have provided to us... We understand how frustrating this may be for legitimate claimants, and we are doing everything we can to clear any unnecessary holds in the most responsible way."
If you haven't been verified yet, click here for information on how to sign up for a trusted referee call.
Click here for helpful tips on how to manage the wait.
Try to be patient, some unemployment claimants have reported to CBS4, that after waiting more than five hours, they were able to successfully verify their identity.
for more features.