Since the onset of Covid-19, the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) has seen a significant increase in fraudulent unemployment claims. The EDD is aggressively fighting fraud in the wake of unscrupulous attacks on the unemployment program here in California and across the country. These perpetrators are often using stolen identity information from national and global data breaches, as well as exploiting expedited payment efforts in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Claims identified with suspicious account information have been closed and EDD investigators are partnering with local, state, and federal law enforcement to expose and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law.
Unemployment benefits are commonly distributed on VISA debit cards, and can sometimes carry a balance of several thousand dollars. Recently, Burbank Police have made several arrests of individuals found to be in possession of EDD VISA cards in other people’s names.
To help combat the increase in unemployment fraud, merchants and retailers are reminded to check identification for purchases made with credit and/or debit cards, especially those issued by the EDD.
Residents are encouraged to monitor incoming mail and to “return to sender” any unexpected mail from the EDD.
The best way to report unemployment fraud is to submit a Fraud Reporting Form online. You can also fax the form to 1-866-340-5484, or call the EDD Fraud Hotline, at 1-800-229-6297.
Penalties for unemployment insurance fraud can include prosecution by government authorities, possible jail or prison sentences, repaying the unemployment benefits collected (plus penalties and fines), loss of future income tax refunds, and losing eligibility to collect unemployment insurance benefits in the future.
Unlawful or unauthorized possession or use of an EDD VISA card is also a crime.
For more information, visit the State of California EDD Fraud and Penalties page.