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Florida’s unemployment claimants involved in “data security incident,” DEO confirms

Florida’s embattled unemployment claims system is suffering another blow Thursday.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity confirmed the Reemployment Assistance claims website had a data breach impacting an undisclosed number of users.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said in a statement:

“We have notified individuals that were part of a data security incident associated with Reemployment Assistance claims. This issue was addressed within 1 hour after we became aware of the incident. While the incident was handled within 1 hour, in an abundance of caution, we are making available identity protection services at no charge to affected individuals, and we have also advised them to report any unauthorized activity on their financial accounts. At this time, we have not received any reports of malicious activity.”

The exact time when the data breach occurred is still unknown. It’s something adding stress for local people already struggling to make ends meet. And, what we do know is, in that time, information from unemployment applicants, things such as like names and social security numbers, were at risk.

“I’m definitely going to keep an eye on my bank account because that’s the last thing I need, you know, is money getting stolen from me when I don’t have any money,” Victor Rivera said.

Rivera in Lehigh Acres hasn’t worked since March. Although he’s received some unemployment funding, he’s still waiting on the additional $600 payments to help with his mortgage and car payments.

“This is just icing on the cake,” Rivera said. “I guess, you know, to have to worry now about your identity getting stolen.”

Rivera, along with many of you, reached out to us wondering about these recent unusual emails asking you to reset your pin or sending you a temporary pin that doesn’t actually work.

“I just spoke to a representative a couple of hours ago,” Rivera said. “So, in a way, I thought it was legitimate. But I don’t know. Something about that email just doesn’t make sense.”

But, after reaching out to the DEO, they say these are legitimate emails from their office.

“I just hope that they do whatever they have to do to protect people like myself,” Rivera said.

The DEO said it already reached out to 98 people affected by the breach. The department will be offering free identity theft protection.

In the meantime, the DEO urges everyone to keep a close eye out for any unusual activity in their financial accounts.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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