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EDD details efforts to get people paid faster after freezing 1.4 million accounts due to fraud concerns

Around half of the 1.4 million frozen EDD accounts may turn out to be actual people that had their benefits abruptly cut off in the middle of the pandemic.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After California's Employment Development Department suspended 1.4 million unemployment accounts at the end of last year due to fraud concerns, new information is being unveiled about just how many legitimate people were impacted.

Around half of those frozen EDD accounts may turn out to be actual people that had their benefits abruptly cut off in the middle of the pandemic.

EDD officials say 1.1 million were directed through ID.me to validate their identity. 

RELATED: Deadline passes to verify identity with EDD

They say, as of Monday, 558,000 people started the verification process through ID.me, 409,000 of which have already been verified, processed and paid or otherwise eligible. 

About 454,000 people never opened their emails in their unemployment insurance accounts that EDD has sent out, even after repeated reminders that they will be disqualified if they don't respond. 

Of the 558,000 people that started the verification process, 10,000 are recent entrants, about 71,000 have been abandoned or have been unsuccessful in verifying through ID.me and they believe, 67,000 are known or suspected fraud based on ID.me criteria.  

But there are still hundreds of thousands of people across the state that haven't been paid so ABC10 asked EDD what they're doing to get people paid more quickly. 

RELATED: 'I want to live life again' | Sacramento Veteran still waiting on frozen unemployment benefits after six months

"People are going to have to get on the phone or fill out something on our website in order to be able to get that paycheck and we want them to get it as soon as possible, we have moved people from other branches into the unemployment insurance branch to ensure that those people are getting the kind of support that they need," Rita Saenz, the California EDD Director said.

In addition to that, this month, they're in the process of hiring 900 people to help with call center needs. 

Saenz said that they have made progress in some of the issues originally raised in the audit report.

RELATED: Why doesn't EDD give people timelines for unemployment benefits?

On Thursday, they also announced that they've removed social security numbers from two unemployment insurance documents and they say that they are creating protocols and procedures to put in place in order to hold themselves accountable.

One of those includes bi-weekly press conferences with members of the media, including the ABC10 Dollars and Sense Team. 

Although the deadline was on Monday to verify your identity, EDD officials said that they are still in the process of reaching out to people, reminding them to verify, so if you still haven't completed it, they say it is not too late to go back in and verify through ID.me as soon as possible. 

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Many Californians are asking how they could access their unemployment benefits after EDD cut them off overnight. (Jan 1, 2021)