October 21, 2008
Beginning today, Oct. 21, the RI Department of Labor and Training will be the first state to launch a new voice verification system that offers added protection against fraud and identity theft within its unemployment insurance program.
Voice verification is similar to fingerprint analysis; it confirms a customer’s identity by comparing a caller’s unique voice print to an earlier digitized recording of the customer’s voice. This new application ensures that each time a person calls the TeleServe system to request weekly benefit payments, he or she is the same customer who filed the original unemployment insurance claim and certified for their first initial Unemployment Insurance payment with the department.
Assistant Director of Income Support Ray Filippone explains that in the past, some unemployment insurance customers have supplied others with their social security numbers and PIN numbers so that these unauthorized callers may request payments on the customers’ behalf. This unauthorized practice not only enabled some benefit recipients to misrepresent their availability for work, but it also left them vulnerable to identify theft. In Rhode Island, unemployment insurance customers must be available and actively seeking work for each week that they are requesting benefit payments.
While new to unemployment insurance call centers, voice authentication systems have been used for security purposes by private industry for several years. The Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications Inc. is the manufacturer of the voice authentication system adopted by the RI Department of Labor and Training.
In a recent mailing, all unemployment insurance customers were notified that they will be required to create a unique digital recording that will be used to authenticate their voice print in the future. Customers should be reassured that all unemployment insurance information—including voice prints—is confidential and cannot be used for any purpose outside of unemployment insurance claims processing.
To ensure an accurate voice print, customers should use the same phone each time they call the department for benefits. In the event that the system cannot verify a voice print, an authorized customer should not be concerned that he or she will be denied benefits. Rather, the caller will be instructed to contact the Unemployment Insurance call center during business hours for further authentication procedures.
About the RI Department of Labor and Training