SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — From stealing your identity to using your address, thousands are getting caught up in Employment Development Department fraud even if they never filed for unemployment.
It’s more important than ever to be vigilant and take preventive steps to avoid long-term repercussions of widespread fraud.
Jorjet’s mailbox has been flooded with fraudulent unemployment claims for 23 different people. Hers is one of more than 30,000 addresses used to file claims for 10 or more people, according to EDD data obtained by CBS13.
“It’s scary,” Jorjet said.
Vanessa is one of the people who’ve been victimized by the EDD fraud. The stay-at-home mom hasn’t worked in seven years, but someone filed for unemployment using her name and social security number.
She says she called the EDD when she learned about the fraud, “and they basically told me there’s nothing they can do.”
READ MORE: CBS13 Investigates: Coronavirus Unemployment
The EDD previously acknowledged that “perpetrators are often using stolen identity information from national and global data breaches” to apply for benefits in victims’ names. They added that scammers are using separate addresses to file multiple fraudulent claims and “will often try to intercept, redirect, or gather mail associated with these claims” at those addresses.
The EDD instructs victims like Vanessa to report unemployment fraud using their social security number through this online tool or by calling the hotline at 1-800-229-6297.
But Vanessa says after calling the hotline and filling out an online report, she has not received a response after three weeks.
In Jorjets’ case, she has been sending the fraudulent claims letters and debit cards back to the EDD as instructed by the EDD. But she says the EDD mail it just keeps coming, including another debit card.
CBS13 asked the EDD what victims should expect from the agency after reporting the fraud. We also asked if the agency would confirm with a victim when a fraudulent claim had been stopped. The agency did not respond, leaving many like Vanessa with more questions than answers.
“Where do I even begin?” she asked.
Anyone impacted by EDD fraud should immediately take precautions to limit future identity theft damage.
In Vanessa’s case, her identity was likely stolen. In Jorjet’s case, it’s likely someone has been sifting through her mail looking for the fraudulent EDD debit cards.
In either case, victims should immediately place a fraud alert on their credit reports and request a credit freeze (also known as a security freeze) from all three credit bureaus. This won’t stop EDD fraud but it will prevent crooks from committing some other types of financial fraud like opening credit cards or taking out loans in your name.
Whether or not you know you’re a victim, now is the time for everyone to check your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com.
While a credit report won’t identify EDD fraud, it but may indicate if you’ve been compromised and raise red flags.
On Monday, the EDD launched its new id.me tool which they say should reduce the need for identity verification documents in the mail. But for now, people may continue to get EDD documents for other people, including documents that contain sensitive information.
Do you think you may be a victim of identity theft?
Read the important tips at the bottom of this story:
New Law Stops EDD From Mailing SSNs – Following 5-Year CBS13 Investigation
Has someone applied for EDD benefits in your name?
Report it here: EDD Fraud Reporting Form
Follow our continuing coverage as CBS13 works to get answers to your coronavirus unemployment questions: