California's Employment Development Department has deployed a new online identification tool called EDD initiated a soft launch of the new tool last Thursday, sending emails and texts to a total of 136,000 people who signed up for an EDD notification inviting them back to UI Online to submit their applications for new unemployment claims. Between the soft launch period and Tuesday afternoon, data shows that 101,159 people used the tool in an effort to verify their identity."Already, the new tool has helped serve more than 101,000 Californians seeking unemployment benefits for the first time," said EDD Director Sharon Hilliard. "We continue to refine this new process and smooth the way for applicants, but we are confident this is a giant step forward in helping Californians verify their identity in a simpler, faster way that is helping us block imposter fraud."The Department worked in partnership with the California Department of Technology and the Office of Digital Innovation to put in place, a commercial identity verification tool that was integrated into UI-Online, the system Californians use to apply for unemployment benefits, including federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) helps applicants prove they are who they say they are in a user-friendly automated process that uses multiple data sources to authenticate identity documents or a virtual in-person session requiring specific knowledge of an individual's financial history. The old process of verifying identity was a major driver of claims requiring manual processing, and the EDD Strike Team estimated that 40 percent of claims received were being flagged for manual processing.EDD has implemented and continues to develop further technology enhancements to increase the number of applications that can be handled without staff intervention, with a goal of processing more than 90 percent of claims automatically.