May 25, 2020

Data Leak Hits Unemployment Program in Florida

Some residents of Florida who made jobless claims may have had personal data stolen, officials said Thursday.

Agency spokeswoman Paige Landrum said in an email that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has contacted 98 people who were part of a data breach connected with jobless claims. When the breach happened, officials didn’t know how many people were involved, or what information was taken.

The breach was addressed within one hour, Landrum said, after officials learned of it. The agency, in an abundance of caution, makes identity security programs available to affected persons at no charge, Landrum said. Victims were told that their financial statements disclose any suspicious activity.

Since the coronavirus pandemic triggered mass business closures across the state, the DEO has submitted more than 2 million applications requesting unemployment insurance from Floridians, but only 1.6 million applications have been confirmed. In Florida, just under 1 million unemployed employees have earned compensation worth more than $2.6 billion.

State Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, expressed outrage at the violation Thursday in a letter to Jonathan Satter, Secretary of the Department of Management Services. The department of Satter supervises information technology for other State agencies.

“Given the track record of the agency (DEO) processing unemployment applications, I am sure you will understand the great concern that all remedies have been taken quickly and that Floridians can be assured that their personal information is now secured and will be protected against future attacks,” Stewart wrote.

The DEO received no allegations of criminal activity, Landrum said.

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