State of California Employment Development Department on Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, by Waltarrrrr
Despite the claims of ramping up security, over 1,200 EDD employees were fired on Dec. 12. California EDD employees were federally contracted to work up until Dec. 26th but were let go just weeks before the holidays.
EDD is under close examination after reports of fraud. Anne Schubert Marie, Sacramentos District Attorney, announced in late Dec. that it is under investigation after an estimated amount of $11 billion, possibly up to $30 billion, was paid to fraudulent accounts. To the victims of claim fraud and the employees of the EDD, this issue is just one of the myriad of problems being reported.
In a recent interview with an EDD, nearly 1,200 EDD employees were laid off back in December. Shortly after EDD announced that Federal unemployment payments that have been available for workers who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment benefits and for those who run out of all of their state benefits are set to expire after Dec. 26, 2020.
An EDD employee explained that he and his department of almost 1,200 of his colleagues had been prematurely laid off with no warning. The employee signed a federal contract to work until Dec. 26, 2020, with the possibility of renewing the employment contract.
“We just received an email saying that we are all fired,” he said. “We have a federal contract up until the 26th of Dec. They’re firing all of us.”
EDD’s instagram, Facebook and Twitter all show posts advertising employment opportunities for a myriad of positions which could potentially explain the recent unreported layoffs. Furthermore, although there has not been any recent reporting on the layoffs there has been cases of fraud conducted by EDD employees.
A woman working for EDD in Roseville has recently been arrested for filing false claims under different identities, one such as Diane Feinstein. Many have taken to Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook posts to reach out to others who have been unfortunate victims of identity theft and claim fraud.
Unemployed Californians go through great lengths to open a legitimate claim with the EDD to supplement their earrings. COVID-19 impedes regular business operations as hours are shortened, employees are laid off and businesses close in the wake of the second shelter in place. After Gavin Newsome lifted the statewide stay-at-home order on Jan. 25th, allowing restaurants and small businesses to reopen, many are still struggling to make ends meet.
Kendall Rhome lives in Sacrament, California and works at a restaurant in Midtown. A few months after filing her claim her bank account was hacked.
“I have been collecting from the EDD for months, and there was a time when my monthly payment of $950 didn’t come through.” she said, “When I was finally able to reach an agent they told me my account was hacked and my password was changed, they had to process a new claim and issue a new debit card because I had been hacked.”
Necessary precautions that are routine cross-checking procedures amongst 35 states including using sophisticated software to identify possible fraudulent applications is available to California but is not implemented in the claims process. California’s software is possibly incompatible with the software of other states. The software ensures that Social Security numbers are left out of official mail, one of the main issues with the current EDD fraud claims.
Filing a claim with the EDD is difficult due to the lack of employees. Those who share resources through Reddit posts, Facebook groups and Instagram, finding ways to help others who have gone months without any pandemic unemployment assistance.
Brittney Ruiz, an employee at The Rind in Sacramento California, receives unemployment insurance after The Rind cut her hours due to the lockdown curfew. Limited capacity restrictions also caused a significant decrease in wages.
“I have had to call multiple phone numbers that I found on Reddit posts.” she said, “I got really lucky one day and called in the afternoon and didn’t have to wait but I didn’t call the UI claims number on the website.”
EDD has recently claimed that there will be a hold on claims until mid-March. Accounts will be audited as an attempt to combat the fraudulent claims and investigate current claims that may be at risk for identity theft.