LAKE MARY, Fla. - Thousands of people impacted by Florida's unemployment system breach are concerned they'll miss out on more payments.
Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) said a security breach may have given hackers information into claimant accounts. Officials said the possible fraudulent activity was connected to claimant accounts within the Reemployment Assistance Claims and Benefits Information System, commonly known as CONNECT.
Jessica Bridges was one of the 57,920 people who had their unemployment accounts hacked. Her account has been locked for weeks and she has missed three weeks of payments. She relied on her tax return to pay for this month's rent, food and, utilities.
"Thank God that my tax return came in because if not, me and my family would have to pawn everything in our home," said Bridges.
Bridges, a disabled veteran, says she's been looking for jobs, but in the meantime depends on unemployment.
"I have job interviews scheduled twice a day throughout this entire week, but I still need to claim my weeks until I actually get hired," said Bridges. "So not having any money plus having to find money to go on these interviews, gas money to get there, that’s causing a lot of frustration and stress."
Officials said a total of claimant accounts were targeted. The hack may have happened between April 27 of this year to July 16. Social security numbers, drivers' licenses, bank account numbers, claim information and other details, like home addresses and phone numbers may have been compromised.
In response to the possible hacking, the DEO said it has:
- Locked accounts targeted by this activity
- Improved PIN security controls
- Enhanced network security controls
- Notified impacted claimants
- Notified the Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Management Services, including the Division of State Technology, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
- Reported impacted accounts to the three U.S. credit reporting agencies
- Purchased a year’s subscription of identity protection services for affected claimants
The Department is recommending that the impacted claimants monitor their financial accounts, and if they see any unauthorized activity, they should promptly contact their financial institution.
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