SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The California Employment Development Department is in the spotlight again, this time for its handling of claims that critics say has resulted in fraud and abuse.
The EDD has been under fire for not responding to up to a million new unemployment benefit claims filed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed a so-called strike force to make sure claims are processed in a timely manner.
On Wednesday, lawmakers asked the state auditor to take a closer look at delays and processing procedures. At least 40 lawmakers have signed onto a letter asking for an audit of the EDD, including the chair of the Legislative Audit Committee.
“Something is going terribly wrong here,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.
Patterson has been critical of the EDD’s delays but said it’s gotten even worse.
“People all over the state are being sent debit cards and social security numbers that do not belong to them,” he told FOX40.
“This is 22 pieces of mail that I have received in the last week and a half,” said Amy Brooks.
Brooks has yet to get her unemployment payment card but she has other people’s, along with private information like social security numbers.
“I’m now holding three different debit cards for people who may or may not have a claim,” Brooks said. “I don’t know how that gets past somebody.”
David Robertson’s 19-year-old son waited three months for his payment only to find out that his address, phone number and email had been changed.
“His identity, essentially, is stolen,” Robertson explained.
Apparently, $14,000 from the account was siphoned off by some else. That’s three times more than he was due by the EDD.
“People who are entitled to it that need it during this pandemic who have been laid off like my son are getting ripped off,” Robertson said.
Critics say that EDD has not responded to complaints of mailing errors or fraud.
The unanswered questions even led Patterson to wonder about crooks operating within the department.
“I want to know if there’s anything going on inside,” the assemblyman said.
Some caution that an audit may not lead to immediate changes within the department.
The EDD has not responded to a request to comment on the possibility of an audit of its practices.