Basic customer service: What people say they’re not getting from the Virginia Employment Commission

Investigative

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Frustration, worry and inconvenience are just some of the problems people are having with the Virginia Employment Commission. Some say the issues seem to be rooted in a lack of customer service, specifically, the inability to reach someone to resolve their cases.

A Portsmouth woman was approved for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance six months ago. The only thing standing in the way is her PIN number. Back then when she was able to make contact with VEC customer service, she was told that her PIN would be mailed to her.

Meanwhile, the agency continues to send phantom tax documents, creating problems for people who want to file their taxes.

“I don’t want to pay taxes on $15,000 I’ve never seen,” said James Kelley, a Yorktown business owner who recently received a Form 1099-G from the VEC.

The form states that he was paid $15,625 in unemployment benefits. Kelley applied for benefits but was declined. He’s the latest person we’ve heard of to receive a 1099-G for benefits they didn’t receive.

“If they paid out the money, who got it?” Kelley said.

He has sent a letter to the VEC and will file a fraud claim.

“All I’m trying to do is find a live person,” he said about his efforts to try to clear up the mistaken tax form.

“You can try to call all day and no one picks up,” said a Portsmouth woman who wanted to be identified only as “Nicole.” “I remember being on hold for an hour and a half, and it just abruptly disconnected.”

She was approved for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments in September for $158 a week, but she can’t access them because she never got a PIN number.

She’s a gig worker and makes money driving for Uber, Grub Hub and Door Dash. She has a 16-year-old son with an underlying condition. Her sources of funds — “family member support, and I had some savings” — are drying up when it comes time to pay for rent, bills and food.

The phantom tax statements have tax implications, so they have to be sorted out before the person can file their taxes. VEC has taken corrective action in some of the previous cases we have reported.
If you have a problem with unemployment contact us at reportit@wavy.com.

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