Illinois residents filing for coronavirus-related unemployment using the state’s new online system might have had their personal information exposed.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, D, announced the Illinois Department of Employment Security experienced a system “glitch” after launching this week. The system, a new online portal, has been set up for contractors and self-employed residents filing for federal unemployment benefits because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outside contractors built the new online portal to help residents who are rejected for regular employment benefits apply for federal benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
State Rep. Terri Bryant, R, first reported the data breach after a constituent contacted her saying she was able to see the personal information for thousands of unemployment applications on the Illinois Department of Employment Security website. The information exposed included names, addresses, Social Security numbers and unemployment claim identification numbers.
The department had more than 1 million residents file for unemployment from March 1 to May 2.
Officials from the governor’s office said they have launched a full investigation into the data breach. They said residents whose information has been put at risk are going to be notified of the data breach as soon as possible.
The data breach for the new Illinois unemployment system comes at a time when the identity theft of unemployment benefits has been quickly increasing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 36 million people in the United States filing for unemployment, some are finding they have had their personal information exposed with thieves stealing their identities and already filing for their unemployment benefits. Victims’ rightful employment claims are rejected as duplicate applications while scammers are receiving their benefits.