State to notify 32,000 unemployment claimants of data breach out of 'abundance of caution'

  • Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the Illinois Department of Employment Security has been "extraordinarily careful" in its handling of a data breach on an online portal last week.

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the Illinois Department of Employment Security has been "extraordinarily careful" in its handling of a data breach on an online portal last week. Justin L. Fowler/State Journal-Register

 
By Jerry Nowicki
Capitol News Illinois
jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com
Updated 5/22/2020 5:06 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Friday it will notify 32,483 claimants whose personal information might have been viewed because of a "glitch" in the newly launched Pandemic Unemployment Assistance portal.

In a news release, the agency said it worked to fix the "glitch" with Deloitte, the outside firm contracted to launch the PUA system created under federal law to give benefits to independent contractors and those who are self-employed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The agency said the personal information of some of the 32,000-plus claimants "may have been unintentionally viewed by a single claimant."

"The claimant immediately reported the issue within the PUA system. Computer records confirm that no other individuals viewed claimant information, which could have included names, Social Security numbers, and street addresses associated with PUA claims," IDES said in the news release. "Based on the department's investigation, it is believed that the claimant unintentionally viewed the information of a handful of other claimants and there is no indication that any personal information was, or will be, improperly used."

The department will notify the claimants possibly affected "out of an abundance of caution."

Upon learning of the issue, according to a news release, IDES worked with Deloitte to "quickly correct the issue and conduct an investigation and analysis."

"The results confirmed that only one PUA claimant was able to inadvertently view personal identifying information of a limited number of other PUA claimants. Based on these findings, there is no indication that any personal information was improperly used nor is it likely to happen in the future," according to the press release.

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Those who receive the notice will have the option to enroll in 12 months of free credit monitoring offered by Deloitte, or a free one-year membership of Experian's IdentityWorks identity protection service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about the breach during his daily briefing Friday, specifically about how anyone can be sure that only one person accessed the data.

"Well, they can look at the log data," he said. "But here, the IDES has been extraordinarily careful and taking extra precautions here by making sure that the contractor has provided for more than 35,000 people the ability to track their own credit reports to make sure that nothing goes wrong for them."

In its first week, the PUA system processed nearly 75,000 claims. The benefits from the program are entirely federally funded for individuals who are unemployed for specified COVID-19-related reasons and are not eligible for the state's regular unemployment insurance program.

The department encourages claimants to continue to use the portal if they believe they are eligible for the benefits.

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