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EDD whistleblower warns of identity theft concern

Out of desperation people are now emailing their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers to random EDD email addresses found online.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — To lose your job and then have your identity stolen during the coronavirus pandemic would be unthinkable, but a whistleblower with the California Employment Development Department (EDD) is sounding the alarm.

The whistleblower says utter desperation has some people applying for unemployment, possibly putting themselves at risk of identify fraud.

"I tried calling the phone numbers," said Paul Camarena. "All I get is a recording to call this number. Some numbers are invalid. I can't even get through to a actual person."

And so out of desperation people are now emailing their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers to random EDD email addresses found online. The whistleblower sent ABC10 screenshots of the heartbreaking messages.

"Please look into my file. I am in desperate need of money to feed my children. I have exhausted my savings," read one of the messages.

"I'm so worried these people who are desperately reaching out for help are unknowingly subjecting themselves to identity theft," said the whistleblower.

The whistleblower warns people not to send claims to this email: wsballbr@edd.ca.gov

The EDD released the following statement:

“The EDD strongly advises against individuals providing any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as social security numbers on any social media channel or in email unless it is specifically requested through an official EDD government website or by an appropriate EDD representative from the program you have applied for. We cannot control what a member of the public may post on a social media channel, unless it is posted on an EDD channel.

As your attachment states, some EDD workforce staff, who have no hand in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits claims process, did receive some emails from UI claimants.  All EDD Staff no matter what program are required to sign confidentiality statements to protect any PII information they may have to work with in the execution of their duties. Any staff who may have received emails containing PII were instructed to eliminate those emails.

In some instances, an individual may be requested to, or choose to provide us with personal information through e-mail or with a comment or question. The EDD only uses this information to improve our service to claimants or to respond to claims requests. Except for authorized law enforcement investigations or, as required by law, we do not share our email messages with any other organizations.”

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