During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Nevada faced an unparalleled economic impact due to its heavy reliance on travel, tourism, and conventions to drive its economy. When casinos were forced to shut down in April 2020, the state’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 30.1 percent, a staggering figure twice the national average and the highest ever recorded for any state in any month, even surpassing the rates seen during the Great Depression. As unemployment claims surged, the state’s Unemployment Assistance Program was overwhelmed, struggling to handle the influx of over 300,000 claims per week by August, a drastic increase from the pre-pandemic average of 20,000 claims.
Unfortunately, the surge in claims also brought forth a flood of fraudulent applications, with approximately 400,000 out of the 1.5 million claims filed since the pandemic’s onset being flagged as potentially false. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) acknowledged its insufficient staff and resources to internally investigate the massive volume of suspected false claims. To combat this challenge, the department sought external support, aided by funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. Consequently, in May 2021, Nevada issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find qualified vendors capable of providing staffing support services to help tackle the overwhelming backlog of potentially fraudulent claims.
Out of the nine companies that submitted bids, Nelnet outshone its competitors, scoring in the top two for every criterion in the technical evaluation, securing the highest overall technical score, as well as offering the best pricing. As a result, DETR awarded Nelnet a four-year contract for the services of 75 full-time agents.
Nelnet’s role primarily involves providing contact center and back-office processing services to investigate, adjudicate, and recover suspected false unemployment insurance claims. The company supports DETR by diligently identifying fraudulent activities affecting both the state and legitimate claimants. Demonstrating remarkable efficiency, Nelnet completed over 11,000 overpayment reviews within just three days of activation. In the first 10 weeks of operations, they reviewed more than 34,000 suspicious identity claims, further showcasing their dedication and adaptability.
Nelnet’s team showcased a quick learning curve and adaptability to the complex task at hand. In a span of just seven weeks, they improved their proficiency score by an impressive 163%, efficiently achieving the targeted number of reviews.
Overall, Nelnet’s contribution played a vital role in assisting Nevada’s DETR to combat fraudulent claims and provide crucial support to legitimate claimants during these challenging times.