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Some applicants might receive duplicate checks from tribe's hardship assistance program

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Volunteers load food and other items at the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter distribution event on April 24, 2020 in Sheep Springs. Navajo Nation officials hope tribal members use payments from the hardship assistance program to buy essential supplies.

FARMINGTON — Approximately 120,000 checks have been issued to qualified applicants from the Navajo Nation CARES Fund Hardship Assistance Program, but 370 of those checks were accidentally duplicated and mailed.

The tribe's Office of the Controller divulged the error on Jan. 26, a week after the first batch of checks were issued.

The office became aware of the mistake on Jan. 25. The error was due to a "printer server failure," according to a press release.

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Controller Pearline Kirk explained that office personnel will contact applicants affected by the error and will provide further information. Staff will void checks that have not yet been processed.

If an applicant thinks they were affected and have not been contacted by 5 p.m. on Jan. 27, they can call the hardship assistance program's support center at 833-282-7248.

The release states that new checks will be issued on Jan. 26 and expedited by delivery services to the affected applicants.

"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and urge members that have received multiple checks to refrain from attempting to present one or both for payment," Kirk said. "This could result in financial loss for the member or check cashing facility, in addition to returned check fees as the duplicate payment will not be honored when presented."

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Tooh Haltsooí Chapter employees, officials and volunteers assembled packages of food and other items for chapter members on April 24, 2020 in Sheep Springs. Navajo Nation leaders hope tribal members use payments from the hardship assistance program to buy essential supplies.

She explained that staff is reviewing checks to ensure this type of error does not happen again.

"In response, there have been additional quality control procedures put in place, including independent, triple checks of all batches processed through this automated process and retroactive audits of batches completed," Kirk said.

The release states that the first round of distribution had more than 200,000 checks that were approved and readied for disbursement, which is expected to be completed this week.

Otherwise, the office has been receiving word that applicants have received checks in the mail.

Navajo Nation officials put into effect the hardship assistance program with the purpose to help enrolled tribal members cover expenses associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

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Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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