GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A human resources professional in Michigan tells Fox 17 something strange happened with the unemployment accounts she manages.
An online section she can normally click to help with cases has vanished.
It’s setting her back weeks and leaving accounts open to potential fraud and she said it’s urgent and needs fixed now.
Deb Fragel said she’s heard nothing from the UIA. She’s tried reaching out telling them that it’s gone and still no response. Now she’s doing everything by hand.
Deb works as an HR professional in the healthcare industry.
She manages three accounts in Illinois, six in Ohio, and 13 in Michigan. Those here account for roughly 2,000 employees.
She’s worked with the state’s “Advocacy Assistance Program” for 17 years representing unemployed workers in court hearings. Now she is the one needing help.
“This. Look at this,” she said on a Zoom call showing stacks of papers that showed up in the mail. “This is what I’ve gotten in the mail. All of these are in MIWAM. I can respond to those electronically, but not anymore.”
That’s because the section allowing her to do that no longer shows up.
“I don’t understand why I can’t answer these electronically anymore. They’re not even in our accounts. These letters are gone. They were in there.”
She uses MIWAM to check the weekly charges to her company and makes sure the people claiming are legit.
“And then they ask me a lot of questions based on that. And usually these are all usually in MIWAM to answer electronically and it’s actually very quick and efficient because their artificial intelligence will go through that and answer it pretty much overnight,” she said.
Even her MIWAM system shut down and told her to be patient and try again later.
Once logged in, the area she needs to click on isn’t even there.
“There’s two spaces in MIWAM. One is called ‘View Determinations and Decisions’ that’s where these can be electronically answered. They’re gone. Even if I researched a name that I know I’ve already responded to, I can’t find it, it’s gone.”
Now she has to answer all these by hand then mail or fax them in, usually within 10 days.
Which could be part of the reason for some backlogged cases across the state, because she said other employers are going through the same issue.
What she has now, working 10 hours days, would take her three weeks or longer.
“And if this a fraud case they wouldn’t even know for days until they open their mail or they review their fax,” she said.
“I probably have three more handfuls like this that I received from my corporate office on Monday and I have to go through these.”
The UIA sent out this notice asking employers to be on time answering the mail.
“Even if I’m on time it’s gonna take them so long to process these because they’re all gonna come in fax for me or I’m gonna mail them all out to them.”
Deb just wants answers.
Something she says the UIA has been silent on. Her emails and texts to people in the agency have gone unanswered.
“Do they know? I don’t even know if they know that these are missing that’s the point that I’m trying to make here. If you know they’re missing then let us know and tell us you’re aware that it’s gonna take us a long time to respond, because we can’t do it electronically anymore and if you don’t know that they’re missing, what? Why? Why are they missing what happened?” she said.
Deb also finds about four fraudulent cases per week so she’s trying to protect current and former employers.
We reached out to the UIA for comment on this story.
The last response I got was just before three and says “I will circle back on the HR inquiry. Haven’t got anything on that yet.”