All 72,000 people signed up for pandemic unemployment assistance in Colorado are eligible for a year of free credit monitoring after a system error gave six people approved for benefits access to everyone else’s private information.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment was alerted to the problem Saturday. In a statement, the department referred to the situation as a “limited and intermittent data access issue.” State officials insist it was not a data breach.
The six claimants granted expanded access were able to see other people’s private correspondence with the state. Social Security numbers may have been part of what was exposed, Cher Haavind, the department’s deputy executive director, said in an email Monday.
Deloitte, the professional services giant that built the state’s pandemic unemployment system, fixed the problem in less than an hour, Haavind said. The labor department believes the risk to other claimants is low. Even so, a notice was sent to everyone enrolled in pandemic unemployment assistance in Colorado alerting them to the problem and offering them 12 months of credit monitoring to help ensure their private information was not compromised.
Deloitte is paying for the credit monitoring service. Sign-up links were emailed on Monday, state officials say.
Haavind emphasized that the six people who were giving the expanded system access did nothing to trigger it and only had access for a single session on the website before Deloitte closed the door.
“We are not able to recreate their sessions nor do we know what screens they viewed,” Haavind wrote in Monday’s email. “We did make contact with all of them today and gathered from those conversations that yes, in fact, they did see the screen access but their session time was brief. They all have valid PUA claims and do not want to jeopardize their benefits and were very cooperative.”
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, is a separate program from the state’s unemployment insurance. Funded by the federal government through the CARES Act, PUA was set up to support gig workers, independent contractors and others who typically would not be eligible for unemployment but have lost income during the coronavirus pandemic.
Problems with the PUA system do not impact on the state unemployment benefits system. More than 380,000 people have filed claims for state benefits since early March.
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