SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The state auditor released a scathing report Thursday about the state’s largest agency, confirming that the Employment Development Department is putting millions at risk of identity theft.
The audit was prompted by a series of reports from CBS13 investigator Julie Watts that started three years ago. Parts of the audit read like a compilation of the facts laid out in her stories over the past few years.
Citing the investigation, lawmakers launched an investigation of their own, embedding the state auditor inside the EDD for five months and getting answers to questions the EDD refused to answer for us.
As CBS13 first reported in 2015, viewers like Maxine Hines were horrified to discover the state was still printing full social security numbers on documents mailed out to the millions of Californians collecting benefits for unemployment, disability, and maternity leave.
State law prohibits printing the full social security numbers “on any materials that are mailed unless state or federal law requires it on the mailed document.”
In response to that law, EDD said it “is required to use social security numbers” under the Federal Social Security Act. But three years ago, our investigation confirmed that’s simply not true.
And now, so has the state auditor.
The auditor also confirmed the agency repeatedly mishandled sensitive mail. The previous investigation found that the EDD exposed full social security numbers in the envelope window and mailed sensitive information to the wrong people.
Still, the EDD insisted it had no evidence anyone had ever been harmed.
CBS13 CONTINUING EDD COVERAGE: “California UN-Confidential”
- July 7, 2015 State Employment Development Dept. Puts Millions Of Californians At Risk For Identity Theft
- July 20, 2015 California Lawmakers Demand Change To EDD Practice Of Putting Social Security Numbers On Documents
- October 5, 2015 California EDD Stops Printing Full Social Security Numbers On Mailers Following KPIX 5 Reports
- May 18, 2016 Americans Collecting Disability And Unemployment At Risk Of Identity Theft
- January 29, 2018 California Agency Still Making ID Theft Easy By Mailing Out Social Security Numbers
- May 29, 2018 Why California Continues To Put Millions At Risk Of ID Theft: The EDD Responds
The auditor found several known security breaches in the three years since we’ve been reporting on the issue, compromising thousands of people through mailing and printing errors… incidents that could have been avoided if the EDD had kept its word.
As a result of these findings, the auditor is calling on lawmakers to step in once again and amend state law, making it clear to all state agencies that they cannot mail social security numbers.
Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg. CBS13 will have more on this story over the next week.