November 30,2020

Grassley Seeks Investigation into California’s Employment Development Department, Identity Theft and Rampant Unemployment Insurance Fraud

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Labor seeking an investigation into California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), with particular attention to fraud and to EDD’s practice of mailing documents that contain individuals’ social security numbers (SSNs). 
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 38 million items of mail sent by the EDD with claimants’ full social security numbers were reported by the California State Auditor.  This places Californians at risk of identity theft and provides easy opportunities for fraudsters to continue to rip off the unemployment insurance system,” Grassley wrote.
“Fraud takes valuable resources away from those who truly need it.  Fraudsters have been stealing resources from California’s EDD by exploiting the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program created by the CARES Act, and some alleged fraudsters have been so brazen as to essentially advertise their exploits on YouTube.  The actions of fraudsters serve to erode public support for unemployment benefits to workers and amplifies feelings of unfairness among our constituents.
“The CARES Act provided $25 million to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Labor for audits, investigations, and oversight of unemployment insurance programs.  I ask that your office conduct an investigation of the failure of California’s EDD to adequately address fraud, failure to remove SSNs from mailed documents, the evident reluctance of California’s EDD to follow recommendations of California’s State Auditor to protect citizens from identity theft and help prevent systemic fraud in unemployment insurance, including the PUA program provided under the CARES Act, and whether California’s EDD is taking steps to address fraud identified by the Strike Team,” Grassley concluded.
Full text of the letter can be found HERE.