April 5, 2021

Victims of EDD debit card fraud say Bank of America made it too difficult to recoup stolen money

It was an unpleasant surprise for Jennifer Yick when the Bank of America debit card…

It was an unpleasant surprise for Jennifer Yick when the Bank of America debit card holding her unemployment benefits was declined by a store. The San Francisco resident knew she had more than $400 in the account.

She logged into the bank website and saw four hefty DoorDash charges — even though she has never used the food delivery service.

“I felt sucker-punched,” she said. “They just drained it.”

Then she embarked on a lengthy quest — “the tale of unending phone calls, hours on hold,” she said — to contact Bank of America about the theft.

Scores of jobless people tell similar stories about their unemployment benefits being hijacked from their Bank of America debit card accounts, and then struggling with the bank to get their money returned. A major class-action lawsuit against Bank of America, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeks immediate changes to help those who lose funds, such as making it easier to report theft and not freezing accounts.

“This is a disaster for thousands of unemployed Californians who have lost their only lifeline in this pandemic,” said Brian Danitz, an attorney with the Burlingame firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, who is co-lead counsel on the case, which consolidates nine previous lawsuits.

Bank of America was hired by the California Unemployment Development Department, which administers unemployment, to provide the debit cards. It has issued more than 9 million since the pandemic began.

California EDD: Info and Resources

The bank said in a statement that it works hard “to prevent criminals from getting money and ensur(e) legitimate recipients receive their benefits.”