LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The embattled Employment Development Department will undergo an audit after it acknowledged it is being targeted by scammers.
Members of the Joint Legislative Committee confirmed Thursday that they had approved an emergency audit of the agency. Dozens of Democratic and Republican legislators Wednesday demanded the move.
This comes after CBSLA learned that dozens of letters from EDD – many of them containing benefit cards loaded with cash — were being sent out to vacant homes. EDD confirmed to CBSLA Thursday that it was dealing with suspected widespread fraud.
The EDD has struggled mightily to handle the flood of unemployment applications since the coronavirus pandemic hit California in mid-March.
EDD’s antiquated system has created a backlog of cases and left tens of thousands of Californians in the lurch. Many who have filed unemployment claims tell CBSLA they have not received their benefits.
“The audit will look at EDD’s efforts to deliver unemployment insurance benefits to Californians, including a review of any backlogs and efforts to improve call center operations and efficiencies,” Assemblymember Rudy Salas, the chair of the committee, wrote in a letter Thursday.
One woman who lost her job in the entertainment industry said she would phone EDD’s call center more than one-thousand times a day, and still could not get through.
“I have called daily, about 1,104 times per day,” Audrey Wolff told CBSLA in August. “There are thousands of people that applied the same time as me, middle of March, that still have received nothing, have gotten no contact from them, haven’t been able to get through on the phones.”
As of late August, EDD had about one million claims still pending.
“In April alone, 2.4 million Californians lost their jobs,” Salas wrote in his letter Thursday. “Countless media reports tell the story of EDD being overwhelmed, not answering most telephone calls, and not processing legitimate unemployment claims in a timely manner. Six months after the pandemic began in California, constituents confirm that EDD continues to struggle.”