Springfield (WEEK) -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security is notifying 32,483 unemployment claimants that their personal information was visible to the public due to a data breach in the state's new computer system.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance portal launched on May 11 to help independent contractors and gig workers receive unemployment benefits. However, a "glitch" in the system allowed a claimant to see thousands of social security numbers, full names, and addresses.
The Department started an investigation into the issue after Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) alerted the Pritzker administration about a constituent who saw the confidential information on May 15. Even so, IDES didn't inform the public about the issue until May 17. The Department explained Bryant's constituent found the spreadsheet of data "through a series of just two clicks."
According to IDES officials, computer records confirm no other individuals viewed the claimant information. "There is no indication that any personal information was, or will be, improperly used." The Department alerted all of the individuals possibly affected "out of abundance of caution."
Deloitte, the accounting organization responsible for the state's new unemployment system, is offering a full year of credit monitoring to those receiving notices. A one-year membership of Experian’s identity protection service is also available to the individuals for free.
Waiting for answers
Bryant has constantly asked Pritzker and IDES officials to answer her questions on the matter. On Thursday, over two dozen members of the House Republican caucus joined Bryant in a letter demanding answers from Pritzker.
Bryant told the Capitol Bureau she received a text from a constituent who received an IDES notice. But as of Friday, the Southern Illinois lawmaker still has not received information from the Department or Pritzker's administration. Bryant says she can't believe only one person saw the data online. The Bureau asked Governor Pritzker how his office or IDES can be certain that is true.
“Well, they can look at the log data,” Pritzker said during Friday's press briefing. “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.”
Bryant knows of at least one individual who had their information compromised. The independent contractor says an IDES agent notified them "that someone has accessed some personal information." They claim their place of birth and mother's maiden name were changed.
Even though the Department says the "glitch" is resolved, Bryant believes the problem is far from over.