Question: My unemployment case is complicated, but I finally got approved through PUA; but now I think I might be getting paid too much. I waited so long for any payment (almost 11 weeks) that I don’t want to stop certifying because what if I am wrong? Then I will lose the money for nothing, and it’s the only income I have coming in. Can you please look into this?
Answer: Although we are unable to find out about your specific case, the state has addressed overpayments generally on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program’s website — it’s aware of errors and is following up directly with individual claimants. Don’t take any special action until you are contacted, it says.
You and any other PUA claimant who sees an overpayment on their account should continue to file weekly claim certifications, the website says. You’ll receive benefits for the weeks you are eligible, and won’t have to pay any penalty or interest on the overpayment, it says. You won’t keep the overpayment.
Q: You’ve said Uber and Lyft drivers should go through UI, but what about food delivery?
A: “If you received income from Uber, Lyft, Bite Squad, Door Dash, Rover, Instacart, Delivery Drivers, Grub Hub, or similar web platforms, Hawaii Unemployment Insurance (UI) considers you an employee. Please do not apply for PUA; please work with UI,” the PUA website says, at https://pua.hawaii.gov/_/.
So, assuming that you work for one of those food delivery companies, you should continue to shepherd your claim through the standard unemployment compensation system, at huiclaims.hawaii.gov/#.
Kokua Line has received many other questions about navigating PUA’s online system, such as what to do if you get locked out (which will happen if you try to log in with the wrong password too many times), how to reset your password, and similar technical questions. The PUA website covers these questions and more in its comprehensive FAQ, at lbr.force.com/PUASupport/ s/faqs.
As we’ve reported (808ne.ws/531kline and 808ne.ws/610kline), the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations stepped up anti-fraud efforts after being alerted last month that the international cybercrime ring Scattered Canary was targeting state unemployment systems. The DLIR would not say how much money was lost in Hawaii, so Kokua Line turned to the California- based email security firm Agari, which had detected the fraud early on.
Here’s information from Crane Hassold, the company’s senior director of threat research:
“We saw in our data set fraudulent claims for Hawaii submitted by Scattered Canary between May 17-31. We’ve directly observed 16 claims, but that is limited based on our visibility. The real number is certainly much higher than that.
“For these 16 fraudulent claims, the maximum potential loss would be $375,000. But this is likely a drop in the bucket of the full scope of losses. Scattered Canary has used Green Dot cards to cash out, and this is consistent in Hawaii, too.
“Regarding the drop-off of fraudulent claims being submitted, we believe Hawaii must have put in place some additional validation steps, similar to what some of the other, earlier states like Washington and Massachusetts have done, and that has significantly reduced the amount of fraud they’ve seen.”
Hawaii’s DLIR confirmed late last month that it had stepped up its anti-fraud efforts, but did not want to disclose all its strategies for security reasons. Receiving timely reports from employers to verify or dispute a person’s UI or PUA claim also has helped reveal imposter claims.
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.