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October 4
1900 - Pico oil driller Alex Mentry (as in Mentryville) succumbs to typhoid fever at California Hospital in Los Angeles [story]
Alex Mentry


SAN FRANCISCO — A federal class action filed Friday claims Bank of America failed to secure debit cards containing unemployment benefits for millions of Californians, leading to widespread fraud and making some cardholders unable to access needed funds during a pandemic.

Bank of America has an exclusive contract with California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to dole out benefits in the form of debit cards. In recent months, many recipients found money suddenly drained from their accounts without warning.

Facing an unprecedented onslaught of fraud this past October, Bank of America froze an estimated 350,000 unemployment benefit accounts. By late November, less than 8% of those accounts had been reactivated, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Bank of America failed to follow industry security standards and issued “outdated, fraud-prone” magnetic-strip debit cards instead of cards with more secure EVM (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip technology.

Bank of America has used EVM chip cards since 2014, but it “opted to issue hundreds of thousands of EDD cards with magnetic stripe technology, which when used at payment terminals openly transmit sensitive card and account information and leave cardholders vulnerable to fraud.”

Those whose unemployment benefits vanished found little help from Bank of America’s customer service agents when they tried to contact the bank, the lawsuit alleges.

“Defrauded EDD cardholders have been forced to wait weeks or longer without any access to their EDD benefits because Bank of America makes it unreasonably difficult to file their claims, which (even if filed) can languish before the claim’s investigation ever occurs,” the 67-page complaint states.

Lead plaintiff Jennifer Yick of San Francisco tried for over a month to get help through the bank’s fraud hotline. She repeatedly waited on hold for hours before getting disconnected. At times, she was forced to leave voicemails or interact with non-human, automated voices, according to her complaint.

Bank of America advertises its 24/7 customer service phone line, but when Yick finally got an agent on the phone after several days of trying, he told her she would need to call the claims department during regular business hours. She called three times the next day, waited on hold, only to have the system hang up on her each time, according to the lawsuit.

A phone agent later told her to send an email with her claim information, but the email came back as undeliverable. She tried to send an email to the same address two weeks later and got the same result.

“Plaintiff has followed the instructions in her account agreement, and made consistent, diligent efforts to recover the funds stolen from her account by multiple telephone calls and email,” the complaint states. “In spite of this, Bank of America’s customer service department offered Plaintiff no meaningful response or assistance, and indeed has stymied her efforts at nearly every turn.”

Bombarded with complaints from defrauded constituents, 59 lawmakers sent a letter to the bank’s CEO Brian Moynihan this past November stating that cardholders “are unable to get through to your call centers, or when they do, the issue is not resolved.”

The bank’s agreement with California guarantees cardholders “no liability” for unauthorized transactions. It also vows to investigate fraud claims within 10 business days or up to 45 days if more time is needed. The bank says it will credit a cardholder’s account within 10 days if an investigation takes longer than 10 business days.

Despite those promises, Yick’s lawsuit accuses Bank of America of violating its contract with cardholders and violating California consumer protection laws.

The proposed class of defrauded cardholders seeks full refunds of money drained from their accounts. They want the bank to issue cards with more secure EVM chip technology and to establish a dedicated customer service website, phone number and email address for California unemployment beneficiaries. They further demand that the bank responds to all cardholders’ fraud claims within a reasonable time.

Yick also seeks punitive damages for the proposed class. She is represented by attorney Brian Danitz of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy in Burlingame, California.

In an emailed statement, Bank of America spokesman William “Bill” Halldin said California’s unemployment program currently faces billions of dollars in fraud. He said the bank is working diligently with the state to prevent criminals from stealing money and to ensure legitimate recipients receive their benefits.

“We have added thousands of agents to answer phone calls and investigate claims for the areas of the program we are responsible for and, as a result, our average wait time for callers has dropped dramatically,” Halldin said. “While the vast majority of unemployment fraud is committed by those filing false applications when fraudulent transactions occur on benefit cards we review those claims and restore money to legitimate recipients.”

In recent months, the state has acknowledged a massive fraud scheme in which scammers and prisoners, including death row inmates, filed claims to receive more than $400,000 in unemployment benefits that they were not entitled to.

— By Nicholas Iovino, CNS

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3 Comments

  1. Marcia says:

    When one as old as I am can remember that Bank of America supported the war in Viet Nam against the US.
    How int he hell did they get the contract. Probably a Newsom deal. Likely he reaps rewards for such.

  2. Eddayjah Dave says:

    How Do I submit a claim

  3. Jeffgreen says:

    They stole my money

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Tuesday, Oct 4, 2022
Oct. 12: LASD Supports National Walk, Bike, Roll to School Day
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department encourages parents and students to join their classmates and walk, bike, or roll to class on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Tuesday, Oct 4, 2022
Tuesday COVID Roundup: 1,133 New Cases in County, 12 Deaths Includes Child
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 12 new deaths throughout L.A. County, 1,133 new cases countywide and 28 new cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Tuesday, Oct 4, 2022
Circle of Hope Holds 31 Days of Hope Fundraising Campaign
First launched in 1985, Breast Cancer Awareness Month became the first organized effort to bring widespread attention to breast cancer. Each October Circle of Hope recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its’ annual event, 31 Days of Hope, to help increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment of this disease.
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Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department encourages parents and students to join their classmates and walk, bike, or roll to class on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Oct. 12: LASD Supports National Walk, Bike, Roll to School Day
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 12 new deaths throughout L.A. County, 1,133 new cases countywide and 28 new cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Tuesday COVID Roundup: 1,133 New Cases in County, 12 Deaths Includes Child
First launched in 1985, Breast Cancer Awareness Month became the first organized effort to bring widespread attention to breast cancer. Each October Circle of Hope recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its’ annual event, 31 Days of Hope, to help increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment of this disease.
Circle of Hope Holds 31 Days of Hope Fundraising Campaign
The annual Saugus High School Boutique Fantastique will be held Saturday and Sunday Nov. 5-6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Saugus High School Gym.
Nov. 5-6: Saugus High Boutique Fantastique
Welcome back, UCLA Hockey! The city of Santa Clarita and The Cube – Ice and Entertainment Center | Powered by FivePoint, are excited to announce the return of the UCLA Men’s Hockey Team for the 2022-23 season.
UCLA Hockey Returns to The Cube
Despite near identical shots taken, The Master's University women's soccer team was not able to find the back of the net as Ottawa defeated the Mustangs 2-0 Saturday in Surprise, Ariz.
Master’s Women’s Soccer Shutout by OUAZ
October is National Pedestrian Safety Month and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will raise awareness about the safety of people walking throughout the month, emphasizing that “safe drivers, safe speeds and safe vehicles save lives.”
October is National Pedestrian Safety Month
You can’t go far in our city without discovering public art or art spaces. Whether you stumble upon the poetry printed on our sidewalks, discover the vibrant colors of the Communitree at the Canyon Country Community Center, find one of the many Art Bears or enjoy the latest exhibit at one of the City’s eight galleries, there is much art to appreciate this month and year-round in Santa Clarita.
Ken Striplin | Get Creative this ARTober
"Groundworks," a new documentary by Justine Garrett (Critical Studies MFA 2006) and Ian Garrett (Theater MFA 2008), airs on multiple U.S. public television stations this month. In Southern California, the film was broadcast on KCET on Tuesday, Oct. 4 and will air on PBS SoCal on Oct. 10-11, coinciding with Indigenous People’s Day.
Oct. 10-11: CalArts Alums’ ‘Groundworks’ to Air on Public Television
The College of the Canyon Athletic Department and Associated Student Government are inviting community members to attend the 2022 Homecoming Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 13 at Cougar Stadium.
Oct. 13: Community Invited to 2022 COC Homecoming Celebration
1900 - Pico oil driller Alex Mentry (as in Mentryville) succumbs to typhoid fever at California Hospital in Los Angeles [story]
Alex Mentry
For the first time since 2020, the Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department is offering its Employer Workshop on child support requirements live in La Mirada on Thursday, Oct. 13.
Oct. 13: Employer Workshop on Child Support Requirements
Calling all Transylvanians! Join the city of Santa Clarita for a screening of the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at The Centre on Oct. 28 or Oct. 29.
Oct. 28-29: Rocky Horror Picture Show Screening
Join the city of Santa Clarita and explore your creative side this ARTober in celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month.
Santa Clarita Unveils ARTober Lineup
The city of Santa Clarita is honored to once again be named as a 2022 finalist for the prestigious award of “Most Business-Friendly City” by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
Santa Clarita Named Finalist for Most Business-Friendly City
Happy October. Our September events were so much fun. We had a really great Chat & Chill with guest speaker Syian Wignal of Real Way Foundation.
Message from JCI Santa Clarita Chapter President
The city of Santa Clarita Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission will hold its regular meeting Thursday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m.
Oct. 6: Parks, Recreation Commission Regular Meeting
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, with the help of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Tactics and Survival unit, LASD Special Enforcement Bureau, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department, will be taking part in active shooter training Monday at Valencia High School.
SCV Sheriff’s Station Announces Active Shooter Drill at Valencia High School
One of the most anticipated events of the year is coming to the Canyon Country Community Center on Oct. 27.
Santa Clarita Mayor’s Monthly Message – October 2022
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Monday no additional deaths and 48 new cases in the Santa Clarita Valley over the weekend, with a total of 29 deaths and 2,615 new cases countywide.
Monday COVID Roundup: 48 New SCV Cases; No Additional Deaths
The California Nurses Association, a union with more than 100,000 members in the state, applauds California Govenor Gavin Newsom’s decision to sign S.B. 1334 into law, guaranteeing enforceable breaks for public-sector and University of California workers who provide or support direct patient care in a hospital, clinic, or public health setting.
California Nurses Applaud Law Guaranteeing Breaks for Hospital Workers
A federal grant is helping the California Highway Patrol increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety throughout the state.
New CHP Grant Highlights Pedestrian, Bicycle Safety
On Friday, Oct. 1, the California Department of Public Health provided a weekly update on the state’s monkeypox outbreak and response.
State Public Health Officials Provide Monkeypox Update
1918 - Box-office superstar William S. Hart promotes 4th series of Liberty Loan (World War I) bonds, which went on sale Sept. 28 [story]
William S. Hart
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