SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The Employment Development Department recently notified 1.4 million benefit recipients their payments were suspended and flagged due to possible fraud. Now many are complaining about problems they’ve experienced when they attempt to get re-verified.
As EDD works to weed out fraudulent and ineligible claims, the agency hired a private firm called ID.me in Oct. 2020 to help verify claimants’ identities.READ MORE: Panel Selects Archie Willams as New Name for Drake High in Marin County
RELATED: KPIX EDD Fraud Special Section
But people say they are waiting sometimes as long as eight hours a day on ID.me to complete the process. The company confirmed these issues are a problem.
Kerry Harvell lost his job working at a restaurant in Monterey County. He’s among the 1.4 million EDD registered users who were asked to re-verify their identities.
“There’s no explanation. They just said you’re in it and you have to do it,” Harvell said. He emailed KPIX a screenshot showing a 5-hour wait time on ID.me.
“I would set an alarm and then wake up a couple hours later to see if the clock moved. It was really frustrating,” Harvell said.
After spending an estimated total of 40-50 hours online since January 6, Harvell finally got through to a live video chat a few days ago.READ MORE: East Bay Fire Departments Ready Their Resources for Dry, Dangerous Season
ID.me CEO Blake Hall explained what’s happening
“If a state puts in a million claims or so and gives you a week to do it, that’s what creates a short-term crisis,” Hall said.
ID.me says that, since EDD’s request at the start of the year, the company is verifying 75,000 people a day; 12% of the millions of claimants are going through a lengthier video chat process.
“We feel for those waiting on video chat. We’ve upped staffing in the hundreds but hope, in seven to ten days, to get back to normal wait times that are 30 minutes to a 2-hour wait,” Hall said.
Hall says 30 percent of the claims it has screened since October have turned out to be fraudulent, which could potentially save California billions of taxpayer dollars.
Meanwhile Harvell just got verified by ID.me Wednesday morning. Now he has to wait for EDD to resume payments.
EDD initially said those receiving notification had 10 days to verify before their benefits were permanently disqualified.MORE NEWS: Evacuations Ordered as Wildfire Burns in Butte County North of Chico
The agency announced this week it will extend the deadline to 30 days and said that, once claimants have been verified through ID.me, payments should resume in a matter of days.