(KGTV) — Hundreds of thousands of unemployment debit cards in California have been frozen due to fraud, according to the state's Employment Development Department.
The EDD says 350,000 debit cards have been frozen because of a variety of fraud indicators, including a high number of claims at a single address. It wasn't clear how much the debit cards were worth, but law enforcement officials say they've uncovered fake cards amounting to $20,000 each, KABC reported.
"The Department’s top priority is to quickly verify the identity of any claimants in this group that may have been impacted by scammer attacks, while we work to shut down the potentially fraudulent claims," the EDD said.
Impacted EDD claimants who may have their cards frozen are advised to take the following action:
- "Claimants who receive an email, text message, or mailed notice from EDD requesting them to provide identity verification documents should visit EDD’s website to login or register for a UI Online account and upload the documents through the Document Upload feature. The EDD has implemented various methods to help expedite the verification process. Payments will be reestablished for claimants verified to be legitimate and accounting will be done to clear them from any connection to a possible fraudulent claim initiated in their name or involving their address.
For claimants who receive an email, text message, or mailed notice and need assistance in providing the identity documents, a new AskEDD dropdown menu has been implemented for them to provide contact information following these steps:
- Select the category 'Unemployment Insurance Benefits'
- Select the sub-category of 'Payments'
- Select the topic “Frozen EDD Debit Card” and press Continue to provide contact and claim information.
For claimants who can’t access funds on their EDD Debit Card and have not received any messages from the EDD, it’s likely that Bank of America has frozen the card because of a suspected transaction, and EDD does not need to verify their identity. In these cases, claimants are advised to contact B of A at the number on the back of their card (1.866.692.9374). The EDD does not remove funds from a card and has no access to the transactions on the card for privacy reasons."
The EDD says that more than 40 arrests have been made since August for fraud, including a rapper who boasted in a music video about committing unemployment benefits fraud.