SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — More than a million people are in the process of filing for unemployment in California right now. Many of them are filing for the first time.
As if that wasn't nerve-wracking enough, CBS13 has learned of printing errors on some letters from the Employment Development Department (EDD) that are causing confusion and undue stress - and potentially compromising people identities.
"I have a hard time believing it just happened to me and my co-worker," said Eric, who asked that we not use his last name. "I would not be surprised if it's happening to everybody."
After filling out the online application for unemployment benefits from the state, Eric and his coworker both got letters in the mail notifying them of phone appointments with the EDD.
"An EDD rep will call you at the following number," Eric said, reading the letter out loud. "And there's a number listed and it's not your number!"
The letter specifies that the agency will call you, and it lists the number at which it plans to call you. But neither of the numbers listed on either of the men's letters was their own. Neither number was even close to their actual phone numbers. When we called the phone numbers listed on the letters, both were disconnected.
"Then you're just left thinking, 'Are they going to call that number and not get ahold of me and deny my claim?'" Eric said.
The letter does say that you can update your number by calling the EDD or logging in online. However, Eric said calling only led to an endless phone tree. He never got in touch with a human being.
Both men also tried to update their information online. However, in order to log in, you need a customer ID number which neither had received yet.
While Eric is still waiting for his scheduled call, he says his friend did eventually get a call from the EDD on his actual number. However, when he told the representative about the printing errors, "she just kinda giggled," Eric said.
As of Monday afternoon, EDD representatives told CBS13 that the agency was unaware of any printing errors.
As a result, it is unclear how many people might be affected by the errors or if this could cause further delays in processing the more than one million unemployment applications that the agency has received over the past two weeks.
It's also worth noting that the men's full Social Security Numbers (SSN) are printed on these letters. Printing SSNs on mailed documents is illegal in California.
We'll keep following up on the misprints, but in the meantime, anyone who has filed for unemployment should to check their mail early and often. Letters with full SSNs, like those coming from the EDD, are known targets for mail and identity thieves.
UPDATE: 4/2/20: EDD sent the following response via email:
"(EDD is) prevented by confidentiality laws of discussing this individual's personal contact information. This situation does not represent any issue beyond what is specific to this person."
EDD did not respond to CBS13's further request for clarification as we have received similar EDD documents indicating that this has happened to more than one person.
UPDATE: 4/3/20 Eric reported the following to CBS13:
"My scheduled phone call (April 3rd 3:00-5:00pm) did not happen. That same day I received another letter that had my Customer ID Number. It included my award notice which stated my weekly benefit was zero which was based on my quarterly income all showing I had zero income. This is totally wrong I worked all of that time (which was asked and answered in my original application)."
CBS 13 has received similar complaints from multiple people. Several people said they they received a call from the EDD at their appointed time, but the call was disconnected and they say they did not get a call back. Several people have also provided us copies of their benefit denials, like this one, which they claim erroneously state that they had "0 income" in the previous 4 quarters.
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