New security upgrade brings more problems for Kansas unemployment claimants

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– New security updates to the Kansas Department of Labor’s system are leaving many Kansans confused about how to log in, and when they do some people are receiving error messages preventing them from filing claims.

Michael Benortham from Kansas City was one of 147 claimants who received an error message when logging in to his account Tuesday morning.

The Kansas Department of Labor advised claimants call into the call center for help. After three hours of waiting, Benortham had no luck reaching someone to speak about his claim.

“It held me on hold until 11:45 a.m. today, then it just abruptly cut me off,” he said.

The new security system requires two-factor authentication to log in, a new security measure to fight the high volume of fraud claims.

KDOL said its website would require credit history questions, as well as setting up two-factor authentication after the upgrade to prevent unemployment fraud, as thousands of state residents file claims. Multiple people called KSNT News and said their passwords on the unemployment website, GetKansasBenefits.gov, wouldn’t work to get back on the site and access the identity verification questions.

“We believe those having issues are due to unfamiliarity with two-factor authentication,” Jerry Grasso said, a spokesperson for the department. “[For example] if a user tries to complete an un-allowed action, they cannot move forward, which will certainly make it look like the system is down for them.”

However, Benortham and a number of others received a message that noted a “system error.” We asked the department why people were receiving this error message and they declined to address the question providing information on the number of claimants accessing the system on Tuesday.

The updated numbers for Tuesday include the following:

These numbers are as 4:30 p.m. today.

Total claimants attempting authentication: 28,215

Those claimants who were proofed/approved: 15,709

Those who have failed their ID proofing and would need to do it again/get help: 2440

Those who experienced an error of some sort: This number was 189 as of 2 p.m. today. We will provide an updated number tomorrow.

In terms of BOTS and fraudulent login attempts, we have stopped as of 4:30 p.m. today: more than 390,000

Kansas Department of Labor

We called OKTA, the company the state hired to implement the multi-factor authentication. An employee at the company said none of the users from the Kansas Department of Labor are able to log in at the moment. Then, recommended people try logging in again in a couple of hours or tomorrow.

Some lawmakers said both republicans and democrats on the state’s labor committee know the department is overwhelmed, as they received more calls.

“It might not be the perfect solution, it might not be what everyone wants, but I think they’re doing whatever they can,” Representative Rui Xu said, (D) Westwood.

The state’s labor committee will be holding back-to-back meetings with the department starting Wednesday.

Benortham said his patience may run thin soon as he dips into his savings to pay bills.

“I need my money sooner or later from them… It’s just poor leadership, I think,” he said.

According to the department, all claimants must re-register, go through a set of security questions and set up two-factor authentication to sign in to their accounts.

Click here for a how-to guide on how to use the department’s new system.

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