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Florida’s unemployment system breached, 98 claimants’ data hacked

No information was released on when the hack took place, how many accounts were opened or if the breach will affect people being able to receive unemployment benefits.

Almost 100 people had information in their unemployment claims exposed in a data breach of the state jobless system that was made public Thursday.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity did not initially say how many people were affected, but agency spokeswoman Emilie Oglesby said in an email late Thursday that 98 people were part of the “data security incident.”

The agency has said the breach was addressed within an hour of officials becoming aware of the incident.

It has not said what information was exposed or when the breach occurred. As part of its initial announcement, the department said it is covering the costs of identity-protection services for people who were affected and has advised them to report unauthorized activity on their financial accounts.

Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, sent a letter to Jonathan Satter, the state official brought in to oversee the unemployment system last month, and requested information about a series of issues, including how many people were affected by the breach, how the breach occurred and steps being taken to ensure that the information does not remain in danger.

“Given the agency’s track record with processing unemployment applications, I’m sure you will understand the great concern I have that all remedies have been quickly taken and that Floridians can be assured that their personal information is now secured and will be protected from future attacks,” Stewart wrote.

Satter is secretary of the Department of Management Services but was tapped by Gov. Ron DeSantis to resolve problems with the unemployment system amid massive job losses because of the coronavirus.

“We have notified individuals that were part of a data security incident associated with Reemployment Assistance claims,” department spokeswoman Paige Landrum said in a statement. “This issue was addressed within one hour after we became aware of the incident.”

Landrum said the Department of Economic Opportunity is covering the costs of identity-protection services for people who are affected and has advised them to report unauthorized activity on their financial accounts.

“At this time, we have not received any reports of malicious activity,” Landrum said in the statement.

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