PFD error, state’s response vexes parents

An error on the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend application is catching some Alaska parents unawares.

From when the PFD filing period opened on Jan. 1 to Jan. 12, there was an error with a date on the state’s signature page, according to Sarah Race, director of the Permanent Fund Division within the Alaska Department of Revenue.

She said that “one of the bulleted items on the certificated language had a 2014 date instead of a 2015 date.”

The error only applies to children’s applications, Race said. Parents who signed the forms between Jan. 1 and Jan. 12 will have to re-sign, which can be done online. More than 10,000 Alaskans, not all of them parents, applied in the first two weeks of the filing period.

The error was corrected after Jan. 12, and those who applied after the fix aren’t affected by the problem.

Residents who are affected don’t have to submit a new application, only re-sign the submitted application. The state is alerting people by email, Race said.

Ketchikan parent Carena Wood said her daughter’s application was one of those caught by the error.

At first, she worried she was being scammed.

“What better way to put the fear into everyone?” Wood said of targeting the PFD. “… You could go really far on a phishing scam with that.”

She talked with friends who were also being asked to re-sign for their children’s PFD. Some guessed that it was a scam or that the state was trying to save money to cut its budget deficit.

Wood said that it took her fewer than two minutes to resolve the issue online after following through on the email from the state.

Wood tries to make PFD applications part of her New Years Day, she said, after one year of signing up at 10 p.m. before the March deadline.

Amber Williams-Baldwin applied for her son’s PFD on Jan. 7. She said she received an email from the state only within the past two weeks, and it arrived in her Hotmail account’s junk folder.

“What had me on edge was if I hadn’t got into my junk email, I wouldn’t ever have known,” she said. “How many others aren’t aware that the problem is going on?”

Williams-Baldwin was also concerned with the irregularity in the state’s response. Some of her friends, she said, were alerted only a few days after they applied, but others waited weeks before they were notified.

“It seems to me like the public just has to constantly be inspecting it and having an eye on it because it’s hard to tell when it’s going to happen or if it’s going to happen,” she said.

The deadline to apply for the PFD is March 31. Dividends are delivered in October.

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