UTICA, N.Y. -- While many New Yorkers chased down unemployment benefits during the pandemic, waiting weeks, even months, for desperately-needed funds, Paul Monte, of north Utica, merely had to walk to his mailbox. The only catch: the pensioner never applied to receive unemployment benefits.
Monte received what he thought was a regular credit card in the mail.
"I said you know what? I'll active it in case I need it for anything. I'll activate it and then I'll just hold on to it. I don't use it, I don't use it. Well, I did active it and it told me I had $475 on it. I said how? From what? And the only thing that the card member could tell me is that it was from the labor department," said Monte.
Next came several hours worth of work, trying to get rid of the card.
"You sit here, nobody can help you. I don't understand it. ...I didn't ask for any of it so I've got to sit on the phone for three days talking to people who have no clue what they're doing," said Monte. 'Somebody told me at solutions that because the money's sitting there, at the end of the year, because I didn't take care of it, I'd have to pay taxes on it."
Monte strongly suspects identity theft, or, some other kind of fraud.
"Bank said there is another temporary card out there and it's 100 days for use after that, I gotta use this card. Well, lo and behold, somebody's got the card somewhere," said Monte.
The governor's office says anyone who receives a monetary determination letter from the Department of Labor but did not apply for unemployment benefits should immediately file a report at dol.ny.gov/uifraud.
Those who file reports with the Department of Labor online will not be required to take any further steps and will automatically have any fraudulent charges cleared from their account.