'I'm homeless right now': Some unemployed North Carolinians blame ID verification system for going weeks without benefits

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- New frustrations for some of the Triangle employed as they go weeks, some even months without their money and they are blaming it on new security measures put in place by the state to prevent fraud.

David Carr, of Durham, has been being locked out of his unemployment account with the North Carolina Division of Employment Security for seven weeks.

"Since January 18th, I've received no money. I haven't done anything wrong," said Carr.

His account was on hold until he verified his identity, through IDme, which is who the NC DES along with several other states partnered with to perform an identity verification process for claimants to help prevent fraud.
Carr said he logged on and tried to verify his ID,

"Once you complete IDme it will take forty-eight hours."

However, forty-eight hours later, Carr was still locked out of his account.

He says he tried the verification process several times, his family tried to help him, and he made more than one hundred calls to DES and ID.me, but still no progress.

"I need some help and if you can help me, I don't know what else to do," he told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

With no benefits, Carr couldn't afford to pay for the place he was living. "I'm homeless right now. The unemployment is how I was supporting myself. It wasn't a lot of money but I was able to pay my rent, buy my food, eat, sleep in a bed."

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Carr saidhe hates being in this position. "I want to work. I've looked for work. I got COVID back in November, got a job the very next day I was tested and had to go quarantine and lost the job," Carr said.

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Carr is not alone as Wilson has heard from other unemployed frustrated with verifying their identity through ID.me.

One ABC11 viewer wrote, "Going on 7th week unable to verify. Tried working with DES on this, and ID.me but hit roadblocks."

Another person emailed Wilson, "Cannot register on IDME for unemployment benefits for three weeks now. I am 67 years old and lucky to have a computer and an iPhone but I am not really good at uploading pictures and taking selfies. I would hate to think if I did not even have the resources to make this happen. I have tried calling and have waited several times for video chat to verify my documents. Today, I have been on hold for almost 4 hours."

Raleigh resident Lamar Winningham also had trouble verifying his identity.

"Pretty much they told me to call in every day to see if it clears up," said Winningham.

He went weeks without his benefits and tried working with NC DES and IDme, but said he still couldn't get his weekly benefits and it was tough going without his money.

"If I didn't have my mother and father, I'd probably be homeless right now," Winningham added.

Wilson got in touch with NC DES and ID.me about these cases and several others.

A representative with NC DES said:

"The Division of Employment Security has partnered with ID.me to perform secure identity verifications for unemployment claimants. Most people have no issues completing the verification process online, however, ID.me also offers verification services via video call, where the claimant presents acceptable documentation to a trained ID.me employee."

A representative with DES also said it is possible there is another issue unrelated to ID.me with some unemployed even if they successfully verified.
ID.me services are available 24/7, and people having trouble can reach out to their support team here.

Blake Hall the CEO of ID.me said, "We are working our tails off 24/7 to make sure everyone who is eligible for these unemployment benefits can get access to them."

Hall says the majority of unemployed can verify their identity in less than five minutes. For those that have trouble uploading documents or providing the right information, they do provide video chat to help, and Hall even encourages those having trouble with ID.me to reach out to him on Twitter. "It's not really a technology issue, it's more of just making sure each claimant knows what they need to do to get through the process."

Once NC DES and ID.me got in touch with the ABC11 viewers having trouble, their identities were verified, which in Carr's case meant weeks of back pay now in his account.

"Everything is good thanks to you. I sure do appreciate it," he told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

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