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Old state unemployment phone number leads to adult chat line

A claimant found the number listed as the ‘Claimant Customer Relations Hotline’ on an unemployment brochure on Michigan.gov, the state’s website.
Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 6:07 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/1/2020) - Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders are still trying to find work, many forced from their jobs in the economic fallout of the pandemic.

We’ve shared the issues many of those people have had trying to file for unemployment. And, Thursday we learned about another example.

Busy signal after busy signal, when calling to file for unemployment or asking a question about your claim, can lead a person to try anything.

One woman reached out to ABC12 News saying in her search, she found another number on the state’s website; and, the response was far from what she would’ve expected.

When we dialed the number, we heard, “Welcome to America’s hottest talkline. Guys, hot ladies are waiting to talk to you, press 1 now. Ladies, to talk to interesting and exciting guys free, press 2 to connect for free now.”

“Oh my goodness. That’s horrible!” one Flint Mom, Megan, responded.

She agreed that number is not going to help anyone file.

The Mom of 4 young boys had to file for unemployment earlier this year and understands the impatience of the woman who found it.

“They didn’t have the website set up correctly, it wasn’t easy to understand,” she explained. “It was unclear about who qualified.”

“It wasn’t easy. You had to really be up on what you were doing,” Tim, also of Flint, said. “It was foreign to me.”

Tim wasn’t surprised when we played the automated message for him.

“There were different, I call 'em, traps,” he explained. “You think you’re filing for unemployment, then it can lead you off into something else and then next thing you know you’re just, you’re lost.”

It’s important to note that number is not on the state’s current website providing guidance for filing an unemployment claim.

The person who reached out after finding it did have to go looking for it.

But again, she thought she was helping herself after not getting an answer on their main line.

The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity said in a statement “Any references to the agency’s previously used phone  numbers have been removed from the website.”

But, it’s still listed as the ‘Claimant Customer relations hotline’ on an unemployment brochure found on michigan.gov, the state’s website.

It appears the number changed in 2013. Megan said they should’ve kept track of it.

“See if they can get the number disassociated with their website. You know, that’s the only thing that I could think of,” she said. “Hopefully somebody has better suggestions, because how can we have our government tied to something so disgusting, you know.”

The real number to call for unemployment in Michigan is 1-866-500-0017.

The State’s Unemployment Agency has been swamped with claims since the pandemic began. The agency had to more than double its customer service staff from 650 to more than 2,000.

More than 2-million claims have been paid out, totaling nearly $22-billion.

The state said it’s helped more than 98-percent of eligible claimants who applied for benefits.

In a statement, the UIA said, “Paying 98-percent of eligible workers is short of 100-percent and we are still working to answer every call and respond to every email. We will not rest until all eligible workers get every single dollar they are entitled to.”

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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