EDD mails Bay Area woman's private information to stranger, raising fears of identity theft

ByMichael Finney and Renee Koury KGO logo
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
EDD mistakenly mails woman's private information to stranger
In a one-two punch, a South SF woman lost her EDD appeal -- then the EDD mailed a copy of her documents, full of private information, to a stranger.

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been difficult for thousands of unemployed workers to get their EDD benefits during the pandemic. Now a Bay Area woman wishes she never applied.

This has to do with a few archaic systems still in place at the EDD. In some cases, paper documents still get copied, faxed, stamped and mailed the old-fashioned way. For one viewer, it led to a mistake that has her living in fear.

RELATED: Retired Chicago woman can't figure out why California's EDD approved her for benefits

It was bad enough when the EDD rejected Georgeann Farrar's unemployment claim last September and worse when the EDD appeals board rejected her appeal. "This is crazy. How can they do this to me?" Farrar asked.

Now she's worried her whole financial life is at risk.

"I received a cryptic text from a woman," Farrar's story begins.

Three months after the EDD denied her appeal, Farrar got a text on her phone: it showed a small portion of her appeal documents.

"I thought it was the EDD," said Farrar.

RELATED: California couple battles EDD bureaucracy after finding $25,000 in stolen unemployment money

It wasn't. The text came from a woman in San Jose named Maria, who had also filed an EDD appeal. Turns out the EDD had mistakenly sent Farrar's appeal document to Maria in San Jose. And now Maria was trying to warn Farrar.

"She's calling to inform me that she has my name, my address, my phone number, my email, my SSN, and all my job and salary information and my appeal request," said Farrar, a South San Francisco resident. "I don't even know if I can understand what she's saying because her English is extremely poor."

Farrar was glad Maria notified her, but also worried about the breach at the EDD.

"I was flabbergasted that they could have made this gross error, sending all my private information to a stranger," Farrar said.

She tried to contact the EDD, then the appeals board to find out exactly what happened.

No response.

"They put me on hold. 'I gotta transfer you,' call's dropped. That's when I froze my life like four days later 'cause I was so scared someone was going to take over my life," she said. "I was that petrified; I was going to be exposed, my accounts were going to be drained. My accounts were gonna be gone, my life was gonna be gone."

RELATED: NorCal man can't get unemployment benefits because EDD claims he's in prison

She contacted 7 On Your Side, we alerted the appeals board, and Farrar received this letter of apology saying: "An employee inadvertently mailed the document... to the wrong person."

The letter suggested she put fraud alerts on her accounts, and gave a website with tips on preventing identity theft.

Farrar had done all of that. What she wanted was ID protection services, but the EDD denied her request.

"'You're basically on your own,'" she said they told her. "'And that nothing was gonna happen, and I think you're OK' and I said, 'I don't feel OK.'"

"To just brush me under the rug and say, 'Don't worry about it.' Yeah, I'm worried about it. This is me, my identity, my life," Farrar said.

Farrar says if Maria hadn't notified her, this might have gone unnoticed. We phoned Maria and she tells us the EDD provided her an envelope with full postage and she mailed back the papers -- hopefully bringing Farrar some peace of mind.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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