UPDATED: Labor blocks more than 500,000 fraudulent log-in attempts

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(Updated to include new numbers from Labor Department)

The Kansas Labor Department reports that it has stopped more than a half million fraudulent attempts to log in to its system after installing new security software intended to root out fraud claims that have been flooding the agency in recent weeks.

The agency said it blocked more than 538,000 log-in attempts since rebooting its unemployment system on Tuesday with new technology to hold down the pervasive amount of fraud that has been blamed for a soaring number of new jobless claims.

“Needless to say, once we are able to clear out the high degree of fraudsters jamming the system, we will be better positioned to assist legitimate claimants,” Julie Menghini, the agency’s government affairs director, told lawmakers in an email.

The Labor Department reported that there were 44,105 people who attempted to get authenticated to use the system and 24,484 were approved.

“The very large/vast majority of people registering are getting through and registering successfully,” Labor Department spokesman Jerry Grasso said in an email.

Grasso said the disparity between those who were approved and those who attempted to get authenticated could be explained because some may have stopped the process for one reason or another with the intention of returning later.

The Labor Department has previously said that it was stopping 2,300 fradulent claims a day, which Grasso said is different from the attempted fraudulent log-in attempts by internet bots and human scammers.

The new numbers gave lawmakers more insight into the fraud problems that the agency has been grappling with in recent months, especially in January when new jobless claims were reaching numbers that had not been seen at any time during the pandemic.

On Jan. 16, the agency reported 76,513 in new unemployment claims, but that number has since been revised downward to 33,901.

Grasso said the number was revised because of a reporting error that has since been worked out with the U.S. Department of Labor.

As of Jan. 16, Kansas ranked third in the country for the increase in the number of initial unemploymet claims, trailing Florida and Maryland.

Representatives from the agency are expected to appear briefly before the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday.