SACRAMENTO – (Thursday, April 15, 2021) – Californians who are out of work during the pandemic have experienced a host of issues with the debit cards used to access their unemployment benefits—from fraudulent transactions to frozen accounts and more. Today, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s (D-San Diego) Assembly Bill 74 to require the Employment Development Department (EDD) to provide a direct deposit option received unanimous, bipartisan approval by the Assembly Insurance Committee.
“Too many Californians have had to wait months to be approved for unemployment benefits, only to run into problems with their debit card,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “Making a direct deposit option available is a simple, commonsense solution to so many challenges we know California residents are facing.”
Assembly Bill 74 would allow individuals receiving unemployment insurance, paid family leave, or disability insurance benefits the choice to have the funds deposited directly into their bank accounts, instead of being mailed a paper check or being issued a Bank of America debit card.
California is one of only two states in the country that does not offer a direct deposit option for unemployment benefits. Currently, the debit cards issued to unemployment benefit recipients are distributed by Bank of America and do not include “chip technology” used to help prevent fraud. The EDD has no direct access to the funds distributed on the cards and has no ability to resolve any issues for individual debit cards. The debit cards issued by Bank of America are also subject to a withdrawal limit of $1,000 a day, in addition to running the risk of being stolen or lost.
For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov