SACRAMENTO, Calif — California's Employment Development Department (EDD) is sharing new information about the identity verification process for people who had their unemployment benefits temporarily suspended.
Since New Year's Day we've heard from thousands of people cut off from their benefits after the EDD froze many accounts due to what they called "suspected fraudulent behavior."
We've now confirmed with EDD that the number of accounts suspended at the end of the year totals 1.4 million. EDD said it suspended the accounts after it applied additional fraud detection screening.
In an email to the Dollars and Sense team, EDD said the fraud screening identified about 3.5 million potentially fraudulent accounts. EDD had already disqualified about 1.9 million of the accounts and just before New Years' suspended the remaining claims.
But we've heard from a lot of people caught up in the mass fraud suspensions who have legitimate claims and are now struggling without the money. EDD did not say why these legitimate claims got flagged.
How to verify suspended accounts
If you had your account suspended, keep an eye on your UI online account or mail. On Wednesday, EDD started to send people with suspended accounts a specific link to ID.me to provide documentation and validate their identity.
You will want to use that specific ID.me link from EDD as it will help expedite the verification process for people with existing claims.
It is also important that you don't ignore the message from EDD as they said, "If no official response is received, claims will be canceled."
A new timeline from EDD, shared with California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, indicates it may take until January 14 for EDD to get verification information to all the suspended accounts. Assemblywoman Gonzalez added that it may take up to 30 days after you provide your identity verification for your benefits to finally clear.
If you need help with the ID.me process, you can find a step-by-step guide here. EDD says uploading your documents online is the quickest way to verify your identity but ID.me also offers a video call option.
► GET THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS: Get unemployment benefits news updates in your email with the Daily Blend newsletter. Sign up at www.abc10.com/email
ID.me says you might have trouble using the service to verify your identity if:
- You recently moved.
- Your credit report is locked or frozen.
- Your credit profile contains incorrect information.
- You already verified your identity using ID.me.
- Your submission has an error or typo.
- You submitted expired documents.
- You submitted an unreadable photo.
- You submitted a phone number that is not associated with your name and address.
In these cases, ID.me would likely need to verify using video chat.
How to use ID.me
ID.me provided these steps for verifying your identity.
Setup your ID.me account
- Check your inbox for an email from ID.me. Click the button in the email to confirm your email address. Then, return to your browser. The page will automatically move forward to the next step.
Secure your account
- Choose an option for multi-factor authentication (MFA). You can receive a passcode via text message or phone call. You can also choose one of the other listed methods which use a phone app or physical key fob to securely send the passcode.
- Most people choose to send the passcode to their phone. Just enter your phone number and then check your text messages or answer the phone to receive your 6-digit passcode.
- Back on your browser, enter the 6-digit passcode and click continue.
- If you want, you can generate and save a recovery code. The recovery code allows you to access your account even if you don’t have the phone or device you used to set up MFA.
Verify your identity
- Choose a document type to submit: driver’s license, state ID, passport, or passport card.
- Either upload existing photos from your desktop OR type in the phone number of a cell phone that can take pictures. If you choose to take pictures with your phone, ID.me will text you a secure link that will open your phone camera.
- Follow the instructions to take pictures of your ID. For a driver’s license, state ID, or passport card, remember to take a photo of the front and back. When you’re satisfied with the photos, click continue.
- Follow the instructions to take a video selfie. Ensure you’re in a well-lit area. You’ll be asked to look at the colors on your phone screen while ID.me takes a short video selfie to verify that you’re really you.
- The final step to verify your identity is to enter your Social Security number.
Confirm and authorize
- Make sure that all your information is accurate and complete. If it is, check the box attesting that the information is accurate, and then click continue. If not, hit the edit buttons to make changes.
- You’ll see a message saying that your identity has been successfully verified. By clicking “Allow and continue,” ID.me will be able to send your information to the agency and you will be granted access to your account.
Frozen EDD Debit Cards
The recent suspension of accounts is separate from Bank of America's own anti-fraud efforts. If you are having trouble accessing the money on your EDD debit card and have NOT received a message from EDD indicating more information is needed, then EDD says this is an issue that only Bank of America can resolve.
You can contact Bank of America by calling the number on the back of your card (1-866-692-9374).
Bank of America shares these tips for people reaching out to them:
- Call Bank of America at the number on the back of your debit card.
- Ask to open a claim and get the claim number.
- Call back and ask them to check the status of your claim number.
- The Bank of America call center is the busiest first thing in the morning. Try a time later in the day for shorter wait times.
If you need more information about unemployment in California, text 'EDD" to 916-321-3310, and our Dollars and Sense team will send you some information.