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Problems with Data Make it Difficult for Unemployed Workers to Receive Benefits

The number of new unemployment claims in the United States is simply staggering. Since the onset of the recent covid-19 pandemic, approximately 30 million jobless workers are seeking state benefits. Couple this with the fact that the pandemic is not even officially over, and the fact that widespread riots and looting are making things even worse for local communities, and it's easy to see how these high unemployment numbers are troubling to say the least.

If all that wasn't enough, some of the individuals that have filed for unemployment benefits have now seen their personal data compromised in a large-scale data breach. While the fallout has been minimal, issues like this – which are unavoidable with the proper technology – only add to the growing list of problems for workers in the U.S.

Uncovering the Data Breach

While it's not clear when the data breach originally occurred, or exactly why it happened, issues first began appearing over the weekend between May 15 and May 18. This is when users of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) initially started seeing the personal information of other unemployment claimants. According to reports, the exposed information even included individual Social Security numbers and residential addresses of users.

Thankfully, the issues with ODJFS were resolved within an hour. While the response time here has to be applauded, it wasn't the only issue affecting new unemployment claimants within the country. According to Deloitte, the company that administers the program on behalf of ODJFS, the issue actually affected users in Ohio, Colorado, and Illinois.

A spokesperson with Deloitte was quoted as saying: "We are deeply committed to protecting the personal information of our clients and the people they serve. The systems were not hacked or externally breached."

The ODJFS also addressed the incident by stating: "Although there is no evidence of any widespread data compromise, Deloitte is offering credit monitoring to all claimants for 12 months."

Making matters worse is the multitude of other issues faced by new unemployment claimants. With systems overloaded, some are finding it difficult to file a claim in the first place. Others, who have already completed their claims, are still waiting to receive their benefits.

In some cases, the individuals filing for unemployment benefits are even falling victim to identity theft. According to reports, a recently unemployed restaurant worker filed for benefits in Colorado, only to find that their identity was already being used to collect unemployment benefits in another state. If that wasn't enough, the victim isn't able to find out what state it is – thus hampering the ability to resolve the problem.

Moreover, the U.S. Secret Service recently warned citizens about a ring of identity thieves who are specifically collecting Social Security numbers for the purpose of filing false unemployment claims. The group is reportedly based out of Nigeria.

All of these issues add up to some serious issues for the United States – at least some of which could have been addressed by taking a preventative and proactive stance to data protection.


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