EDD won't verify North Bay woman's identity until she enters the wrong information

NOVATO, Calif. -- Time is running out for the 1.4 million workers who suddenly were cut off from unemployment benefits.

The EDD gives them 10 days to prove they are not fraudsters or lose their benefits -- possibly for good.

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But many are hitting roadblocks trying to verify their identities. One woman shows what happened when she tried to verify - a surprising result.

This viewer tried for days to prove her identity using the EDD's new system -- called "ID.me." Then she put in the wrong information - that changed everything.

When we last saw Tarri O'Donnell of Novato she was desperately trying to prove she's really Tarri O'Donnell. "I uploaded my passport, my driver's license," she told us.

"Then it asked me to hold the phone up to my face and it did a scan of my face," she said.

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She'd uploaded her documents and her "face" into EDD's "ID.me" verification system.

It wasn't good enough.

"They said they could not verify me," said O'Donnell.

The program said an agent would soon come online for a live interview.

"It says I have four hours and 53 minutes of wait time!" O'Donnell exclaimed.

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Instead, she got disconnected. Then rejected... it happened three times.

"Curse words were coming out of my mouth today, like, are you kidding me?" she asked.

Tuesday we are watching as O'Donnell tries once again.

"I'm still here at the beginning..." she explains. "So, it's taken my driver's license..."

Now the facial scan. She's supposed to keep a straight face.

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O'Donnell laughs. "It won't take my face if I'm laughing..."

Now "ID.me" automatically shows her information. But the address is wrong.

"It lets me edit, so I'm gonna change that," said O'Donnell.

She puts in her correct address, hits confirm, and waits.

"It says 'unable to verify with the phone number provided.' This is ridiculous!" she exclaims.

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Would a different phone number work?

"I'm gonna try to use my girlfriend's phone. I wonder if she's home...." said O'Donnell.

She had once shared that phone with her friend.

But that doesn't work either.

"I'm no closer to being identified," she says.

She starts over. And again, ID.me auto-populates that incorrect address.

"Maybe I should leave that address in here. I'm gonna leave it," O'Donnell said.

So she does. Hits send...

RELATED: California unemployment: EDD freezes pay for thousands of workers on New Year's Day

"Wouldn't that be funny if... " she starts. Then she gasps. "What? Ohh!" O'Donnell laughs.

It worked! ID.me verifies her identity - but only with the wrong address.

"Are you kidding me? They have the wrong address, but that's okay with them..." she says. "Woo hoo!"

That incorrect address was one O'Donnell used six years ago. Makes you wonder how reliable the system is. 7 On Your Side has reached out to ID.me about why an old address worked, but not the correct one.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!
7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case.


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