Hackers expose personal data of 58,000 claiming unemployment benefits in Florida

·2 min read

Hackers targeting Florida’s unemployment website potentially stole the personal data, including Social Security numbers, of nearly 58,000 people.

The Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday that hackers targeted the site, known as CONNECT, between April 27 and July 16 of this year, breaching the personal information of unemployment recipients.

The hackers targeted 57,920 claimant accounts, the department said, and they might have obtained those people’s Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers, claim information and other personal details, such as addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.

They might also have stolen users’ PIN numbers they use to access their accounts, the department said.

The attack was discovered last week. The department recently started notifying affected Floridians of the breach. It did not send out a news release, as noted by Miami activist Vanessa Brito, who has been helping Floridians navigate the state’s broken unemployment system.

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The state did not say if it knew the identity of the hackers but said it reported the breach to law enforcement.

The department has locked the accounts of potentially affected users, reported them to the three credit reporting agencies and purchased a year of identity protection services for them, the department said.

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.

Claimants may contact the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) or going online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. The department also recommends claimants contact the three U.S. credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to obtain a free credit report from each by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by logging onto www.annualcreditreport.com.

The breach is just the latest headache for Floridians applying for or receiving unemployment insurance through CONNECT. The system was crippled during the pandemic, and more than a year later, it still experiences outages and technical glitches that make it difficult to file and receive claims.

Contact Lawrence Mower at lmower@tampabay.com . Follow @lmower3.

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