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Follow-Up—Employment Development Department
Since the COVID-19 Pandemic It Continues to Mail Documents Containing Social Security Numbers and Put Californians at Risk of Identity Theft

Report Number: 2020-502

Figure 1
EDD’s Failure to Fully Implement Our Recommendation Put Millions of Claimants at Risk of Identity Theft

Figure 1 is an infographic that outlines our previous findings regarding EDD’s mailing practices, EDD’s failure to implement our recommendation, and EDD’s recent volume of mailings that contained full social security numbers. Specifically, the figure illustrates that we previously found EDD sent at least 13 million pieces of mail with Social Security Numbers in fiscal year 2017-18, and that we subsequently recommended EDD remove social security numbers from its three highest-volume forms—which accounted for about 10 million of the 13 million mailings we identified—by March 2020. The infographic highlights that EDD still has not done so. As a result, the figure shows that in the approximately eight months since COVID-19 caused unemployment claims to surge in March 2020, EDD sent at least 38 million pieces of mail with social security numbers—nearly 34 million of which were from the three forms we recommended it change.

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Figure 2
EDD’s Mailing Practices Expose Individuals’ SSNs in Multiple Ways

Figure 2 is a depiction of three ways that mailing documents with individuals’ full social security numbers can expose those individuals to identity theft. First, mail with social security numbers could be stolen: the left side of the figure shows a thief taking envelopes out of a mailbox. In addition, mail could be accidentally sent or delivered to incorrect addresses: the center of the figure shows a house with an “X” that indicates it was the wrong mail recipient. Finally, fraudulent unemployment claims could result in multiple mailings to an incorrect address the perpetrator has selected, further exposing individuals’ social security numbers: the right side of the figure shows a mailbox stuffed with many envelopes.

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Figure 3
We Observed Significant Volumes of Mail That Had Been Returned to EDD, Some of Which Contained SSNs

Figure 3 consists of three photos we took of boxes of mail that had been returned to EDD, including mail returned by individuals who incorrectly received it. The boxes of returned mail are stacked several layers high and fill the office cubicles in which EDD stored them. Some of this returned mail contained individuals’ social security numbers.

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