News

1.6M Unemployment Claim Filers Exposed Due to Data Breach

The Washington State Auditor’s Office has investigated an incident that has exposed the personal information of 1.6 million citizens of Washington State. These citizens were the ones who filed for unemployment claims in 2020. 

Pat McCarthy, State Auditor has put the blame on the shoulders of a third party software that was used to transmit files of the computer. 

McCarthy said in a news release, “I know this is one more worry for Washingtonians who have already faced unemployment in a year scarred by both job loss and a pandemic. This is completely unacceptable. We are frustrated and committed to doing everything we can to mitigate the harm caused by this crime.”

According to the Seattle Times, this data was collected by the State Auditor to investigate

how the Unemployment Security Department of Washington has become a victim of unemployment claim fraud worth $600 million. 

McCarty also states that “This was an attack on a third-party service provider. The Employment Security Department did nothing to cause this, and is not responsible in any way for this incident.”

SAO (State Auditor’s Office) says that the affected data includes personal information of the people who filed for unemployment claims, information of state employees, and the information of fraudulent claims and the identities of the identity theft victims. The data also included the people’s names, social security number, license, bank information, employment place, and state identification number.

The third-party software has given their statement to The Times that the breach occurred to a legacy product that the company has encouraged its customers to not use it but instead use the updated form.  SAO states that they are working with the law enforcement authorities, the state’s cybersecurity department, legal counsel, and Employment Security Department. The agency also developed a web page guiding those who might have become a victim of identity theft.