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A new round of deceiving text messages are popping up on cell phones, sent by scammers claiming to be from the California EDD or Bank of America. According to a report by KTVU, several Californians say that in recent weeks, they have received phishing scam texts that attempt to get pin, debit card numbers, or account information related to unemployment benefits.

It’s not new. But California’s Employment Development Department warned the sophisticated schemes are still trying to trick people into clicking a link that takes them to a website that may look legitimate.

Since the start of the pandemic, $181 billion has been paid out in unemployment insurance payments. A chunk of that has gone to fraudsters, according to former EDD Director Michael Bernick. Bernick has been in close contact with officials at the EDD since the pandemic began, keeping an eye on claims, rampant fraud and department challenges.

“We’ve seen the enormous amount of money washing through the system,” he said. “I think that’s the new normal in government benefits.”

The EDD has put new identity safeguards in place over the last year, which has prevented some fraud. Bernick said unemployment insurance has long been the primary target of identity thieves, but he expects sophisticated scams to also hit disability insurance, food stamps, and welfare programs.

The EDD warned Californians to be on alert with several tips.

– – Never click a link in an unexpected text message
– – Messages asking to reactivate a debit card are scams
– – Verify if an EDD text message is legitimate by logging onto “UI Online”
– – Call Bank of America using the phone number on the back of the debit card to confirm bank-related messages
– – Do not respond to suspicious text messages
– – EDD only sends text messages from the number 510-74 or 918-06

Californians who receive suspicious cell phone or email phishing communications should report those scam attempts to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at Phishing emails can be forwarded to the FTC’s Anti-Phishing Working Group at and phishing text messages can be forwarded to the FTC at 7726. You can also call the EDD Fraud Hotline at 1-800-229-6297.