A Washington agency examining how the state fell victim to unemployment fraud in 2020 revealed on Monday, February 1 that the files on 1.6 million claims that it obtained for its investigation have been exposed by a data breach. Individuals who already lost work due the pandemic might have to add identity theft to their difficulties.
The breach involved a third-party software vendor, Accellion, which the Washington State Auditor’s Office uses to transmit files. The auditor has been looking into how Washington’s Employment Security Department lost hundreds of millions of dollars to fraudsters, including a Nigerian crime ring, who rushed to cash in on sweetened pandemic-related benefits by filing fake unemployment claims in the names of real state residents.
Those potentially affected include people who filed for unemployment benefits between Jan. 1 and Dec. 10, 2020. That includes many state workers as well as people who had fake unemployment claims submitted on their behalf.
The data includes names, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank information and place of employment. Also potentially affected was personal information held by the Department of Children, Youth and Families, and non-personal financial and other data from about 100 local governments and 25 other state agencies.
During this time, Washington unemployment claimants’ — among others’ — sensitive information has been exposed to cybercriminals and may soon be, it not already, fraudulently used. Attorneys at Finkelstein, Blankinship, Frei-Pearson & Garber, LLP have successfully recovered millions of dollars on behalf of data breach victims. We are currently investigating this matter, as well as other data breaches. If you believe that your information may have been unlawfully accessed, please contact us to discover your legal options.