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Why is the CA Unemployment Agency Using Third Party to Identify Claimants?

They want a photo of your driver’s license, fingerprints, palm prints, retinal scan and your social security number

By Katy Grimes, June 17, 2021 9:47 am

With the California Unemployment agency allowing more than $30 billion in fraudulent claims during the coronavirus lockdown, and months of ongoing overdue claims payments, the agency is apparently addressing a backlog of claims by reaching out to claimants out of the blue.

A Globe reader contacted us to tell a really odd story dealing with the EDD. He received a phone call about his unemployment claim — from last April 2020.

Out of the blue today I got a call from a pleasant sounding woman from the EDD. She asked if I had filed a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim last April 15, 2020. She knew I had. I said yes but I gave up trying when no response was forthcoming.

She then explained that there were now funds available (15 months later) and that I needed to resubmit my application online. So, I’m thinking “free money’ and it would be retroactive to December 2020. I know I should stand on principle and refuse the money but I just spent $800 on car repairs so my judgement was clouded a bit.

I go online and have to establish a new account since it’s been more than 12 months. They ask a list of yes/no questions and then you proceed to the next page. Ultimately you get to a page where they claim because of fraud they need to fully and completely verify who you are. This leads to another site which appears to be outside CA government called “ID.me.” I started the process and thought I can see they are being super careful after the $32B in fraudulent claims paid out last year.

We have also heard about the EDD working on old claims, but hadn’t heard they were asking people to start the process all over. Our reader continued:

But then I got to the Biometric Data Authorization page. On the surface it appears like what they are asking for is legitimate and necessary. However, I had to read this section a couple of times before a stark reality set in. They are asking permission to gather, retain and disseminate your personal biometric data to governments, banks, law enforcement and others for a period of up to 7 years. They want a photo of your driver’s license, fingerprints, palm prints, retinal scan and your social security number. I had to stop and think about that as well as why is the EDD making these targeted phone calls to those who didn’t receive any benefits.

Here they are asking for your biometric data in exchange for “free money” and they don’t tell you upfront if you even qualify or how much you’ll get. In the meantime they’ve got your authorization to take and use your personal biometric data.

I stopped right there and decided I don’t want their bribe.  The big question for me is the EDD called me so they know who I am. Why would they need to have further verification from ID.me? I think this is a data collection scam.

The Globe attempted to contact the EDD at the number the Globe reader said he was called from, and was unable to ever get through. We always got a recording saying, “We are unable to complete your call at this time. Please try later.”

The Globe also tried to file a public records request following the EDD online form, but as I clicked on the submit button, (five different times) I got nothing but error messages (I had immediate empathy for unemployment filers). So I sent my California Public Records Request to the EDD newsroom via email, asking the EDD for all information about the contract the agency signed with ID.me.

California is home to Silicon Valley, the home of Internet innovation. Yet the State of California can’t seem to use modern technology in any of its agencies to be even moderately efficient at processing unemployment claims, or drivers license renewals.

We will report back when we hear a reply from the EDD.

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10 thoughts on “Why is the CA Unemployment Agency Using Third Party to Identify Claimants?

  1. When I renewed my drivers license in 2019, I was given the option to use my license for overseas travel identification. To do so, I had to sign up through the id.me website. I do not recall any biometrics data required at that time, just the usual things for a driver’s license. If a person goes through the process their license has a gold bear-star logo on the top right corner. I just tried to login to the id.me site and got this message: “Something isn’t right! We are unable to process your request…..”

      1. The only website where I have been required to submit biometric data as described by the Globe reader, is a site for cryptocurrency trading that uses facial recognition software. I believe that secured areas within federal buildings also would require some type of biometric key (retinal scan or other) to gain access. Perhaps the problems with stolen EDD funds has resulted in this attempt at providing more security which, in turn, makes the process more intrusive. People who are required to obtain security clearances can relate to this.

  2. Thank goodness Katy Grimes is there to pursue this outrage. Looking forward to the EDD’s response.
    SS#, palm prints, retinal scan? If it’s not a scam from a real scammer (other than the EDD, that is) it sounds like something designed to make the legitimate EDD applicant give up. Actually the EDD process before they required your first-born and a retinal scan sounded like something designed to make the EDD applicant give up entirely. As the emailer above apparently did, last year.
    Sloth and crookedness is a win-win for California bureaucrats.

    1. I myself am experiencing the same problem, on one hand they (EDD) says you don’t need to do anything ,they Will automatically file for you, they will allow you to certify for the last two weeks, then they turn right around and tell You,You need to open a new claim, after after following their instructions 4 weeks later there message me telling me I need to file a new claim again , , I haven’t received Any benefits since April now I am at the point where even if I’m offered work I don’t even have money for fuel to get to the job

  3. I also had crazy issues with them. Two times they mailed me information with my entire SSN on it. Our mail was broken into a few times in the last year, so this is concerning. I cannot believe a state run agency doesn’t even have the technology to X out most of the number.

    1. April, as we know now, EDD was hacked and billions lost. So your concerns about PII personal identification information is justified. Funds were redirected to prisoners and criminals in other states. Showandtell says “….take a look at this article by Evan Symon from last year. Be sure to note especially the 188 comments of desperate unemployed Californians (unemployed through no fault of their own) who are panicked and pleading to try to find information on how to get through to the EDD swamp. And even so it’s probably only a taste of the misery that came from this mess. But today we know the rest of the story, don’t we?”

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