State emails out new tool to unlock unemployment accounts after cyberattack

A cyberattack is causing more issues with the unemployment system.

The state has released a new tool to combat it, not long after a data breach that’s kept thousands of people from their benefits.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says its new tool will help people verify their identities to get back in. It’s called DEO Verify.

Claimants will get an email about how to access it. Florida unemployment advocate Vanessa Brito tweeted recently what the email will look like.

People affected by the cyberattack told us they can’t access their accounts because when they try to log in a single time, the website says there have been too many attempts and they have to reset their PIN.

Then they’re locked out.

So the DEO verify tool helps claimants get a new PIN and access CONNECT.

At the same time, anyone who might have further issues is being directed by DEO to its online Help Center. The problem is it doesn’t always ask for a claimant’s information, so that complaint doesn’t end up connected to the account with the issue.

When we brought these concerns to DEO, we were told the Help Center is meant as a “self-help” tool. Meanwhile, many people say they can’t reach DEO over the phone either.

In a recent press release, DEO said it is implementing the following steps to help claimants regain access to their CONNECT accounts:

  • DEO Verify is now available for claimants to verify their identity to access their account. Claimants will receive email notification from the Department to access this verification tool. Claimants are encouraged to check their spam and junk mailboxes for notifications from the Department
  • Florida residents who have a valid driver’s license or identification card may verify their personal information with DEO Verify to receive a new PIN and instructions to access their CONNECT account
  • Additionally, DEO will soon introduce multi-factor authentication measures in order for claimants to access CONNECT and to ensure their accounts remain secure.
  • The PIN reset guide also includes directions to reset credentials to access and assist with other login issues
  • DEO recommends that claimants use the updated Reemployment Assistance Help Center resource to notify the Department of any issues relating to their CONNECT account. Concerns submitted through this resource are routed quickly to appropriate DEO team members to review and assist
  • We encourage all claimants to be vigilant in protecting personal information and to report any fraud online
Reporter:Sara Girard
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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