NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Out of a job since last June due to COVID-19, Clarksville resident Calvin Stewart never thought he’d still be fighting for his unemployment benefits months later.
“I tried to get unemployment and they denied me the first time and said something was wrong with it,” said Stewart, who has been unemployed since last June.
So he kept applying, and applying – and each time would get denied.
When he couldn’t get answers, he contacted News4 Investigates for help.
Consumer investigator Lindsay Bramson asked, “If I understand this correctly you haven’t received benefits the entire time you’ve been out of work?”
“No ma’am,” said Stewart.
When we asked the state’s unemployment office about it, News4 Investigates was told Stewart already had an open claim in Rhode Island, and it’s against the law to receive benefits in multiple states.
The only problem? It wasn’t him!
“I’ve never even visited Rhode Island. They didn’t let me know that. It took you to find out. I don’t know how long I’d still be waiting if you didn’t find that information out,” said Stewart.
Stewart was told to file a police report. He says he answered some questions about his identity and within hours was approved for 14 weeks of benefits here in Tennessee.
“Should it have taken you seven months to get benefits you’re entitled to?” we asked.
“I don’t even think it should’ve taken three weeks to get the benefits,” said Stewart.
News4 Investigates wanted to know what could be done to prevent something like this from happening to someone else. And is there a way to know when something like this happens.
When we asked the state about it, we were told people are urged to be careful who they allow to use their wireless devices and to be cautious when using public Wifi.
“I wish all the states were interlinked to where if my social security number crossed Tennessee and Rhode Island, it flags it immediately and lets someone know to let me know,” said Stewart.
We asked and a spokesman with the state’s unemployment office says there is a way to alert other states about potentially fraudulent claims.
Once News4 Investigates alerted them to the issue they were able to notify Rhode Island about it and get it fixed.
Stewart just hopes next time, it doesn’t take so long.
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