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California Unemployment: Fraudulent charges keep popping up on EDD debit card accounts

Bank of America said fraudulent charges will be refunded.

SAN DIEGO — News 8 viewers keep telling us about problems accessing unemployment benefits and there are reports of fraudulent charges on EDD accounts. Rancho Bernardo entrepreneur Gary Stoefen had to stop working as a videographer back in March when the pandemic hit, so he applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

“I'm self-employed. I had a video production company,” said Stoefen. His claim came through and the unemployment benefits were deposited into his Bank of America, EDD debit card account.

“In October, I decided to transfer the bulk of the money into my credit union,” Stoefen said.

He left about $1,500 in the B of A account. Then, he started noticing fraudulent charges.

“I had two [fraudulent charges] from Door Dash and the rest were just erroneous charges from all over the country, which I did not make,” Stoefen said.

“The important thing is, I never have used the card. I only used the account number to transfer money to my credit union,” he continued.

The fraudulent charges amounted to about $300. He called Bank of America, expecting a refund.

“I can't seem to get a dime back from Bank of America. They have not been helpful whatsoever, and it takes about two hours to get through to them,” said Stoefen.

News 8 contacted a Bank of America spokesperson, who said B of A has issued more than eight million EDD debit cards to unemployed workers since the pandemic began. He assured us, if the charges on Stoefen’s account were fraudulent, they would be refunded.

“It could have been a lot worse. I could have had the entire bulk of the money fraudulently taking out,” said Stoefen.

To help prevent debit card fraud, transfer funds out of your Bank of America debit card account as soon as possible, into your personal bank account. You can also set up recurring, automatic transfers. Bank of America also recommends using complex and unique passwords for your different accounts. Make sure you have virus protection on your computer and don't click on suspicious links in emails or text messages. Bank of America said there has been no data breach in their EDD debit card system.

If you notice fraud on your EDD card account, report it right away to the phone number on the back of the debit card.  When you receive a replacement card, assign a different PIN number to that account.

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Editors Note:  Bank of America refunded the fraudulent charges on Stoefen's debit card account one day after this story aired.

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