SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's Employment Development Department has frozen the accounts of 27,000 new medical provider registrants and 345,000 related claims over concerns that a large portion of those are fraudulent.
We're learning some legitimate claims have been caught up in the latest round of account freezing from the embattled department that's blocked an estimated $125 billion in fraudulent claims.
Bailey Graham became disabled June 2021 due to pregnancy complications, she filed for disability insurance and received payments from California's Employment Development Department (EDD). Then in November, those payments suddenly stopped without explanation.
Now Graham, of Madera, Calif., believes her account is the latest to get caught up in fraud attacks on California’s EDD.
“After that, I did not receive any notification. No phone calls, no e-mails, nothing in the mail regarding the frozen payments,” Graham said.
The EDD announced on Dec. 14, 2021, it suspected an organized criminal identity theft effort was behind a slew of bogus disability claims. The department says it believes fraudsters targeted both doctor and individuals.
“The Department saw a recent rise in new online medical and health provider account registrations and strongly suspects most of those registrations were fraudulent,” Ronald Washington, EDD’s Disability Insurance Deputy Director, said in a press release. “We deployed additional safeguards that further protect providers and claimants from these scams.”
The California Medical Association (CMA) notified its members of the situation on Jan. 5. Both the CMA and EDD are urging providers and individuals to be weary of potential phishing and identity theft scams to protect their credentials and identities.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, says he’s been fielding calls from EDD claimants suffering from the latest round of account freezes. He says his office was able to help more than 3,000 people through the process when EDD was hit with attacks on unemployment in 2020 and 2021. Now, he wants answers from the EDD on how big the problem is and what help is needed to push legitimate claims through.
However, Patterson says the EDD is not providing those answers.
Starting this week, the EDD is working to resolve the latest fraud attacks by e-mailing medical providers directly. Health care officials should look for e-mails with a domain ending with “edd.ca.gov” and with information on how to verify credentials through “ID.me.”
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