CHICAGO (CBS) — A data breach for the state’s new system to process unemployment claims for contractors and gig workers exposed personal information for potentially thousands of people, but state officials said the error was fixed within an hour of learning of the issue.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security confirmed one person who has filed claim for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was able to access personal information for “a limited number of claimants” on Friday.
Illinois State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said a constituent in her district made her aware of the data breach, after inadvertently accessing a spreadsheet with names and personal information for thousands of unemployment applicants.
“My constituent was visibly shaken, and worried, and shared her discovery with me. My office immediately brought this to the attention of IDES officials and the Governor’s office,” Bryant wrote in a Facebook post.
IDES said the problem was fixed within an hour of being notified.
“It was corrected to prevent any future unauthorized access,” IDES said in a statement.
The department has contracted with Deloitte to run the state’s online PUA claims process. According to the state, more than 50,000 claims have been filed through the website since it launched on Monday.
PUA benefits are offered to gig workers, contractors, self-employed workers, and others not normally eligible for traditional unemployment.
Bryant and State Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) have said IDES and the governor’s office should provide more specifics on the data breach, including exactly how long sensitive information was out there for others to see, how many people’s information was exposed, and what specific actions have been taken to fix the issue.
“It’s been one failure after another at IDES. For two months now we have brought our concerns about the failings of IDES to the Governor, and they have continually been shrugged off. Now we’ve learned that a data breach impacting possibly thousands of 1099 workers took place within the same agency. The people of Illinois, who are out of work through no fault of their own, deserve better. They deserve prompt certification of unemployment benefits, and they absolutely deserve to know their personal information is safe. Right now they have neither,” Wehrli said in a statement.
IDES has faced persistent problems with unemployment claims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, from people being unable to file claims for days, if not weeks, to people getting locked out of benefits due to minor mistakes.