Faced with a flood of fraudulent unemployment claims, California authorities on Thursday said 350,000 debit cards containing benefits have been disabled due to suspicious activity, including a large number of claims at the same address.
Debit cards disabled by the state Department of Employment Development and Bank of America since the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in March could be worth billions of dollars.
“The department’s top priority is to quickly verify the identities of any of the claimants in this group who have been victims of fraudulent attacks, while we are working to close fraud claims,” the company said in a statement Thursday.
Purpose Potential fraud Has warned some state officials. But legislator David Chiu (de-San Francisco) said he was concerned that those in need of unemployment benefits were also looking at their valid claims.
“Our offices have been hearing complaints with legitimate claims that EDT debit cards have been disabled as part of this anti-fraud measure,” Chiu said. “Again, the EDT could not commit fraud without harming Californians who are dependent for benefits.”
EDD officials on Thursday did not respond to questions about how much money is affected by the benefits of frozen debit cards.
Law enforcement officials arrested more than 100 people for unemployment fraud, according to the debit cards they seized Each can have benefits of up to $ 20,000. If that amount were on each of the 350,000 frozen cards, it would represent $ 7 billion of the $ 105 billion in benefits that EDD has paid since the outbreak began.
The EDT said it was sending notices to claimants with disabled debit cards asking them to provide identity verification documents through the agency’s website.
Claimants who do not verify their identity will be disqualified from receiving benefits.
Individuals who have not been notified by the EDD but still have no access to their funds may have had their cards disabled by Bank of America, which issued the cards “due to a suspicious transaction” and said they should contact the bank. A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment.
The agency said its investigators are “working with national, state and local allies to expose, identify and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”
Legislator Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), a homeless mother of three young girls, spent several weeks trying to verify her identity in a fair claim to unemployment benefits.
“EDD still doesn’t know the difference between fraudsters and those in high demand – like 30 customers in one half in my district, they all closed their cards,” Patterson said.
Meanwhile, there is also EDD Faced criticism Individuals who call the three separate agency call centers are unable to access a service representative or assist with terminated claims.
The company responded by making its three call centers available seven days a week from 8am to 8pm starting Friday.