LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Rep Steve Horsford, D-Nev., said Wednesday his proposed GUARD legislation will help state and local unemployment systems fortify against scam artists who exposed vulnerabilities during the pandemic.

“In the height of the pandemic, scrupulous scam artists sought out ways to acquire the money allocated to help vulnerable workers and families during a time of great need,” Horsford said in a news release. “I am introducing this bill to help our state and local unemployment systems be fortified from future fraud.”

Specifically, H.R. 8661, The Guaranteeing Unemployment Assistance and Reducing Deception (GUARD) Act, enables aggressive action to recover pandemic unemployment benefits that were paid to criminals, supports prosecution of ringleaders and helps fraud victims.

The bill also would seek to provide workers who were victims of identity theft with help to quickly resolve any remaining issues, the release said.

Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, called the GUARD Act a “step in the right direction.”

The act would require the Department of Labor “to develop concrete performance standards for states on equity, benefit delivery, access, and other areas,” she said. The bill also would authorize the agendy to to offer financial incentives to states who meet or exceed those standards.

The release offered the frustration of Eunique Buckley, a resident of Horsford’s Congressional District 4, who found chasing unemployment benefits a difficult task.

“When I applied for unemployment assistance, the systems did not work,” Buckley said. “I would get constant busy signals and was not able to talk to people weeks at a time, making it impossible for me to do my verification process and submit my appeal. Congressman Horsford’s bill would help our state’s program and so many others work for us like they are supposed to.”

A copy of the bill and a section-by-section summary is at Horsford’s website.