If you recently lost your job, you may be able to stay afloat by applying for unemployment benefits in California. Sadly, many other people are hurting as well, causing an influx of claims being filed.
Crime rings have found the increase in claims lucrative as they target unemployment offices all over the country. They are walking away with hundreds of millions in stolen benefits plus committing many other identity theft crimes as well.
If this happens to you, it’s not a lost cause, but it might feel like it at the time. You can still get the benefits you are owed, though it could be a long road to making that happen. Here’s what you need to know.
How Stolen EED Cards Result in Disaster
Upon applying for unemployment benefits, you have to sit back and wait for the California Employment Development Department (EDD) to process your claim and send your cards. Unfortunately, all it takes is someone calling to change your address or swiping your EDD card from the mail to throw you off track.
Then, you have a huge mess to sort out while they’re well on their way to stealing your unemployment benefits. Even with a call to the Bank of America or other financial institution your benefits were set to land, you might end up out of luck as they refuse to supply the funds owed to you.
Thankfully, it doesn’t need to end there. You have steps you can take to mitigate the problem and gain control of your EDD account, so you can finally get paid and have funds on your debit card once again. But first, you need to know the signs of unemployment theft.
Telltale Signs of Unemployment Theft
If you’re waiting for the approval of your unemployment benefits claim, then it’ll be easy to tell if fraud occurred since your payment simply won’t show up on time. Upon checking the system, you might see that it was paid out, but didn’t land in your bank account. If you check into the problem, they may tell you where the payment went, which is usually GreenDot cards or other nontraceable accounts.
Unemployment fraud can also occur without ever having filed a claim. The scammers will set up an EDD account in your name, change your address and payment information, then walk off with your funds. You’ll only catch wind of this happening once the California EDD sends a notice to your email or home. Sometimes, it only comes to light when you need to file an unemployment claim and see the damage.
Steps to Take When Unemployment Theft Occurs
If unemployment theft occurs, you need to act fast to keep them from taking another dime. Here’s the steps you should take.
Report the Situation to the California EDD
The first step is to contact the California EDD to report the fraud. You can either use their online form or call their hotline at 1-800-229-6297. You can also fax your report to 1-866-340-5484 if needed, but it will likely take longer to process than the other methods.
Either way, you will need to give them your full name and contact information plus your social security number and date of birth. They will look up your account to see what has happened and change your address, phone number, and email if needed. If you have any documents backing up your claims, they will let you know where to send them. Once they complete the investigation, they will get you a new EDD card and hopefully send out the unemployment benefits you’re owed soon.
Tell Your Employer About the Identity Theft
The employer mentioned in the claim will also need to know about the fraud since the unemployment office will likely reach out to them. Call the human resources department directly to notify them and take note of who you talked to and when. Also, jot down what was said and give them a way to contact you if needed.
Check Your Credit Report for Signs of Identity Theft
If the scammers got into your unemployment account, they may use your personal info in other nefarious ways. They could try to open bank accounts, get credit cards, and even sign up for a rental under your name. To nip those attempts in the bud, you need to check your credit report with the three major bureaus for the next year or more. If you notice any fraudulent activities, then you have to report them as such and potentially hire a lawyer to help take care of it.
For Help Handling Identity Theft, Call the Cardoza Law Corporation
If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to address the theft of your unemployment and identity, take a moment to reach out to The Cardoza Law Corporation. With a call to 415-802-2799, you can get in touch with our team and receive the support you deserve. We will help you go through the steps needed to sort this all out and let go of the stress.