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Data breach exposes Social Security info of some Floridians seeking unemployment benefits

DEO is making identity protection services available to anyone impacted from incident

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida agency that handles unemployment benefits said they recently had a “data security incident” that may have compromised information from Floridians seeking unemployment.

The incident exposed full names and Social Security numbers of some people who have applied for unemployment benefits, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The Department of Economic Opportunity said they had to deal with a data security incident associated with reemployment assistance claims, otherwise known as unemployment benefits, according to the DEO.

The DEO said the personal information of some applicants was unintentionally sent to a private email server owned by a third party.

The third-party deleted the information from their server, according to the DEO.

“It is extremely unlikely that this information was viewed or accessed by another third parties,” the DEO said in a letter sent to anyone impacted by this incident.

When people apply for unemployment benefits they must include personal information, including names, addresses, and social security numbers.

The DEO said they reached out to anyone impacted by the incident and are offering identity protection services available at no charge.

“This issue was addressed within one hour after we became aware of the incident. While the incident was handled within one hour, in an abundance of caution, we are making available identity protection services at no charge to affected individuals,” DEO Press Secretary Paige Landrum said in an email.

Landrum said they have advised anyone impacted to report any unauthorized activity on their financial accounts.

The DEO said they have not received any reports of malicious activity.

More than 1.6 million people have applied for unemployment benefits since March, according to the DEO, a majority of those claims are due to coronavirus-related layoffs and furloughs.

The DEO did not disclose how many people may have been impacted by the data incident.

Senator Linda Stewart said she is asking state officials the following questions about the incident:

  • How many people were impacted by the breach?
  • How can Floridians be sure the issue was resolved in an hour?
  • What steps has the DEO taken to make sure applicants’ information is not in danger anymore?
  • How did the security incident happen?
  • Who is going to provide identity theft monitoring and how will it be coordinated?

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.


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