SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — In an effort to stop fraud, some are concerned the Employment Development Department may be further delaying payments to people who have been waiting months for legitimate unemployment claims.

Over the past month, people across the state have had the mailboxes flooded with EDD documents addressed to other people. It appears people, or groups of people, are re-directing EDD claims to unsuspecting homeowners in an effort to fraudulently collect the money while millions of legitimately unemployed Californians are still waiting for their payments.

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Now, in an effort to stop the apparent wide-spread fraud, EDD has announced changes that some worry could make it even harder for people to collect their legitimate benefits.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson criticized the EDD’s response Thursday. “What they’ve done is made this process easy for the bureaucracy and nearly impossible for the unemployed,” Patterson said.

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The EDD announced Thursday that the agency will no longer automatically backdate claims to the date people were unemployed. Many worry that could further delay legitimate payments.

CBS13 has heard from dozens of viewers who legitimately filed for unemployment and had to wait months for their claims to be “automatically” backdated due to staff errors.  Many are still waiting, and the new EDD policy has many concerned it will further delay payment to people desperate for that money. 

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The EDD also announced it will be limiting multiple claims at the same address to stop fraudsters from using fake addresses.

“While there are legitimate reasons for several workers using a single address, the EDD has shut down multiple claim situations following key identified patterns,” the press release states. An EDD spokesperson tells CBS13, “these are the multiple claims that have been suspended or closed,” implying the new policy won’t impact legitimate cases where multiple people from the same home lost their job.

“I’m stunned by what they’re not saying and stunned by what they don’t know,” Patterson said.

Another concern is that the EDD is asking people to mail the documents to investigators at a PO box or mark the letters “return to sender,” “which is actually like putting up a sign (telling) fraudsters ‘here they are,'” Patterson points out.

Identity theft experts note that leaving the letters in your mailbox for the mail man to pick up, or mailing them to a PO box, may pose an even greater risk that the document and people’s identities could be further compromised on the way back to the EDD.

Over the next few weeks, CBS13 will be digging deeper into how you can protect yourself from fraud related to the EDD, whether or not you were compromised.

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Follow our continuing coverage as CBS13 works to get answers to your Coronavirus Unemployment Questions: 

CBS13 Investigates: Coronavirus Unemployment