California’s Employment Development Department has frozen 345,000 disability insurance claims due to suspected fraud and fake applications.
A total of 27,000 suspicious medical provider claims associated with those providers were frozen by the department as it investigates whether claims are legitimate.
The EDD said while these providers and claims were likely fraud attempts, a partnership with state regulators and medical provider organizations will coordinate the verification process to clear any legitimate claims as quickly as possible
“This is EDD’s top priority. That includes working to contact all claimants who have had their claim held up in this identity theft scam,” the department said in a statement.
The department took action in recent weeks.
"It's déj vu all over again," said State Assemblyman Jim Paterson (R – Fresno). "The EDD is once again treating legitimate claimants this time with disability claims as if they might be scammers."
At least $20 billion in unemployment benefits have been stolen by criminals using stolen identities since March 2020. According to the EDD, Scammers attempt to impersonate government agencies in an attempt to trick people into clicking fake links.
The department urges medical providers to complete further identity verification with ID.me to potentially certify any disability claims, and verification through the site should come from an official EDD email address ending in @edd.ca.gov.
Those who receive communications from EDD regarding a medical provider online account being created in the DI system, or an application for public benefits (such as disability or unemployment insurance) and believe someone filed the claim falsely, should file a fraud report by visiting Ask EDD and selecting the Report Fraud category to complete the Fraud Reporting Form.
“Californians should safeguard financial and personal information online and elsewhere and remain vigilant to guard against identity theft,” the department said in a statement. Identity theft victims may also want to file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). More information can be found on the EDD’s Help Fight Fraud webpage.