Audit: California agency publishes 38 million Social Security numbers

Los Angeles (AP)-California’s unemployment allowance agency has sent at least 38 million emails, including social security numbers, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a state audit released Thursday. Is at risk of personal information theft.

California auditor Elaine Howl said in a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom that the Employment Development Department was told to stop the practice a year ago, but did not hide confidential information. Said he continued to mail.

“The inability of EDD to change business practices in a timely manner has increased the risk of claimants unnecessarily stealing personal information,” Howl wrote to the governor. “EDD needs to take immediate action to end potentially harmful practices and better protect the identities of the resident who provides the service.”

She immediately sent the state’s unemployed agency the three most mass mailers, including the social security numbers of those who file claims, rather than following the schedule announced before changing the form by August 2021. I urged you to change to.

Officials at the Employment Development Department and Governor Gavin Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Concerns about the potential for fraud in the unemployment system began to rise in September after numerous reports of receiving dozens of letters from the Employment Development Department containing the personal information of others. The agency is investigating previous evidence of fraud and recently said that 350,000 award debit cards were frozen as part of an ongoing effort to stop fraudulent claims.

Mr Howl said Thursday that at least one petitioner had received more than 65 mails from the Employment Development Department addressed to at least 15 different people. She said the form containing the Social Security number could be used by fraudsters to gain unfair profits.

The surge in unemployment claims since the spring, when the outbreak of COVID-19 accelerated and more people lost their jobs, “further revealed the dangers of EDD practices,” Howl wrote. Since March, the ministry has paid $ 110 billion in unemployment benefits for 16.4 million claims.

Jim Paterson, a frequent critic of the Employment Development Department, said he was wary of authorities failing to respond to the recommendation by March 2019 to stop mailing Social Security numbers.

A recent audit revealed that “EDD is an accomplice to theft and fraud of personal information,” and called on Newsome to “clean the house.”

“EDD knows fraudsters are looking for this information. They oppose state law and endanger the identities of 38 million Californians,” said Fresno Republican Patterson. Stated.

Howl said her office has a wide range of employment development departments to consider “responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including unemployment claims, call center performance, and the adequacy of information technology infrastructure.” He said he would conduct an audit. The report is scheduled for early 2021.

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Audit: California agency publishes 38 million Social Security numbers

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