Rep. Bryant Demands Governor Answer Questions Involving Potential Massive IDES Unemployment Applicant Data Breach

MURPHYSBORO – Statement from 115th District State Representative Terri Bryant on a possible massive data breach involving the private information of thousands of Illinois unemployment applicants.

“On Friday, May 15, 2020, a concerned constituent made me aware of a potential data breach at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Through a series of just two clicks, this constituent stumbled upon the personal information of thousands of unemployment applicants on the IDES website. This came up in a spreadsheet with thousands of names containing sensitive information. The information she was able to access included the name, address, social security number, and unemployment claimant ID number of thousands of people.

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. We have since demanded answers multiple times. I sent the Governor and the director of the IDES a letter earlier today demanding answers. As of now, the only official response I have received from the Governor’s office has been an email reply to my letter that said, “Thank you Representative. We are aware and fixing the problem.”

The people of Illinois deserve better! 

Hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans are stressed and struggling! It is imperative that Governor Pritzker and his administration answer my questions immediately.

Here are the questions I asked:

1.      Is IDES aware of any potential data breach involving the personal information of thousands of Illinoisans that have applied for unemployment?

2.      Is Governor Pritzker or his staff aware of any potential breach involving the personal information of thousands of Illinoisans that have applied for unemployment?

3.      How long was the personal information of unemployment applicants available for other applicants to see?

4.      Has the problem been resolved? Is there any possibility that thousands of Illinoisans that have applied for unemployment assistance through the IDES website have had their identity compromised?

Governor Pritzker and his administration should immediately release any information about this potential data breach as soon as possible so those affected can protect themselves from identity theft and fraud. While we don’t have all the details yet, we know that at least one person was able to easily access the personal information of thousands of Illinoisans. We need to make sure everyone who has applied for unemployment benefits is aware and protected!

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Here is the text of the entire letter:

Dear Governor Pritzker and Director Mays,

On Friday, May 15, 2020 my office received a panicked phone call from a constituent that lives in Mt. Vernon. She had been trying to file for unemployment benefits, and came across a web page on the IDES website that contained the personal information of thousands of people that had applied for unemployment.

The constituent shared screenshots that showed an excel spreadsheet that contained the name, address, claimant ID number and social security number of what appear to be thousands of applicants for unemployment assistance as part of the PUA.

Upon learning of this potential security issue, I immediately notified the Governor’s legislative liaison, Allison Flood, as well as the Chief of Staff for House Republican Leader Durkin who contacted his counterpart in the Governor’s office. It is my understanding that officials from IDES also reached out to my constituent directly. Since then, my constituent has not been able to recreate the issue. I am relieved that this is the case, but I am left with many questions.

1.      Is IDES aware of any potential data breach involving the personal information of thousands of Illinoisans that have applied for unemployment?

2.      Is Governor Pritzker or his staff aware of any potential breach involving the personal information of thousands of Illinoisans that have applied for unemployment?

3.      How long was the personal information of unemployment applicants available for other applicants to see?

4.      Has the problem been resolved? Is there any possibility that thousands of Illinoisans that have applied for unemployment assistance through the IDES website have had their identity compromised?

I am available to speak to either Director Mays or Governor Pritzker at any time to discuss this critically important issue. The identity of thousands of Illinois citizens and their financial futures are potentially at risk. If this is the case, the public must be notified, and the State of Illinois must provide ID theft protection and/or credit monitoring to these individuals as soon as possible.

Please contact me to discuss this issue as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Terri Bryant
State Representative – 115th District

Below is the response I received from the Governor’s office:

Here is my reply: