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Unemployment fraud concerns prompt action in California from EDD

The California Employment Development Department said the debit cards were frozen for several reasons, including a high number of claims at a single address.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — At least 350,000 debit cards filled with money for unemployment benefits in California have been frozen because of suspected fraud. 

The California Employment Development Department said the debit cards were frozen for several reasons, including a high number of claims at a single address. The agency said the claims were part of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. 

That program offers unemployment benefits to people who would not normally be eligible to receive them. Congress approved that program because so many people are out of work during the coronavirus pandemic. California has processed 15.2 million unemployment claims, totaling $105 billion since March.

This news comes one day after the EDD announced its call center is moving to a more modernized system. Starting Friday, Oct. 23, callers are being redirected based on what the claimants are calling about and there will also be self-service options for people looking for payment history, tax form information or to certify benefits. A new telework system is also being incorporated to transfer callers to more available representatives more efficiently.

The EDD says that these changes will "increase the EDD’s ability to serve Californians during this unprecedented pandemic, as the department continues to also bring new staff online after training."

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