SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Employment Development Department ,which oversees the distribution of unemployment benefits to millions of out of work Californians, is taking more drastic measures to deal with a wave of fraudulent claims.
The NewsChannel Tipline has aired a series of investigative reports over the last few months about problems at EDD including the fraud and massive backlog of unpaid claims to Californians who've been out of work since the pandemic started in March and have not received their benefits.
We showed how some people in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties were getting dozens of EDD letters delivered to their home addressed to people who have never lived at that address. Many of those letters contained EDD debit cards worth thousands of dollars each. EDD officials admit those letters appear to be part of the fraudulent activity they are investigating and trying to stop.
EDD officials announced on Thursday that they have identified and frozen about 350,000 debit cards that may be fraudulent based on certain indicators, including a high number of claims at the same address. Officials said they are quickly working to identify which claims are fraudulent and which ones are not.
Another major problem our NewsChannel investigations have focused on is the inability of claimants to reach a live person using the EDD call center number. The system has been overwhelmed since the pandemic shutdown. EDD also announced it is expanding its Call Center hours to 8 p.m. seven days a week so it can reach more people and reduce the backlog of claims quicker.