How have workers been hurt?

A former tech office worker forced into living in his friend’s car. A furloughed Disney candymaker struggling to pay for her son’s medication. Untold numbers of other jobless Californians left in financial limbo due to a chain of failures after they filed for unemployment.

Amid EDD’s bureaucratic meltdown, the state backlog for processing unemployment applications has stretched up to 1.6 million, and thousands of others have been caught up in mass account freezes to weed out fraud. Many of those whose unemployment debit cards were frozen or who saw credits for fraudulent charges suddenly reversed say they have ping-ponged between the state and Bank of America trying to get their money back.

Now, with tax season just around the corner, another unsuspecting group is being dragged into the mess: those whose identities were stolen by fraudsters to file for unemployment, and who are just now learning they’ve been targeted. So opens another chapter in the state’s unemployment fraud odyssey.

  • Jessica Gallup and her five-and-a-half-month-old daughter Sunny on the balcony of their one bedroom apartment in South San Francisco on August 6, 2020. Now that she will lose the $600 in additional stimulus aid, Gallup worries how she will make ends meet. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • Delario Woods
  • Stephanie Moore and her eight-month-old dog,Spook, in their Lawndale apartment, on Nov. 17, 2020. Photo by Tash Kimmell for CalMatters.
  • Julie Hansen
  • Matt Hoffman plays guitar while on hold with Bank of America at his girlfriend’s house in Escalon on Nov. 13, 2020. Hoffman, who has been unemployed since suffering a stroke last year, has been unable to access his benefits since July. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters