Regional headquarters of global accounting firm and financial advisor Deloitte in Perth, Western Australia.
(The Center Square) – The state of Michigan announced a partnership with Deloitte to improve the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s (UIA) programs as well as seek out fraud, but similar agreements between the company and three other states exposed thousands of Social Security numbers.
Illinois, Ohio and Colorado hired the vendor to build a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, the system funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that paid claims for self-employed workers. Each contract resulted in accidentally exposed personal information.
Deloitte contracted with the Illinois Department of Employment Security and exposed nearly 32,500 Social Security numbers and other personal information in May.
Southern Illinois state Rep. Terri Bryant, a Murphysboro Republican, said an error allowed a constituent to access “multiple people’s names, full Social Security numbers, addresses” and personal correspondence between claimants and the agency.
Deloitte didn’t respond to a request for comment.
According to Cleveland.com, Deloitte also contracted with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The deal resulted in 24 people obtaining access to claimants’ personal information.
Deloitte told the outlet it remedied the situation within an hour after noticing the problem, found no evidence of improperly used information, and offered possibly exposed claimants 12 months of free credit monitoring.
The Colorado Sun reported six people accessed Social Security numbers and personal information of up to 72,000 people.
A Deloitte programming error caused the two-week glitch, the outlet said, and Deloitte compensated possibly exposed claimants with a year of free credit monitoring.
Labor and Economic Opportunity spokesperson Jason Moon told The Center Square that Deloitte’s contract was bid competitively and is scheduled to provide 13 weeks of services for $727,488.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shuttered most of the state’s economy to halt the virus’ spread, the UIA scrambled to process more than 2 million claims.
Michigan’s unemployment rate sprung to 22.7 percent in April, topping the state’s unemployment rate from the Great Recession and seizing the nation’s second-highest spot.
Some Michiganders said they had waited months for benefits but couldn’t contact an agency representative after hundreds of emails and calls, the only means of contacting UIA employees since the physical buildings were closed.
In response, the UIA received $29 million appropriated by the legislature and boosted the number of employees handling claims from 130 to 2,200.
Complicating processing claims, the United States Secret Service on May 14 alerted states to a fraud ring exploiting states’ unemployment systems.
The UIA in mid-June flagged 140,000 accounts as possible fraud.
The Deloitte partnership aims to mitigate cybersecurity risks and investigate fraudulent claims, according to the contract.
“Deloitte is pleased to bring our deep understanding of unemployment insurance systems and our broad capabilities in cybersecurity and forensic assessment to support the State of Michigan’s efforts to protect the integrity of their complex systems,” Michigan Managing Principal David Parent said in a press release.
Four months into the pandemic, job losses aren’t finished. About 24,000 Michiganders filed additional unemployment claims last week.
The UIA’s next goal is to determine about 30,000 unpaid claims filed before June 1 by July 20.
The state has paid out $15 billion to more than 2 million claimants since March.