Identity theft attack targets GDOL, accounts paused as precaution

ATLANTA —

A major identity theft attack targeted unemployment benefits at the Georgia Department of Labor, Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray has learned.

Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler tells Gray it was a huge multistate attack on the unemployment system that took place in the past 30 days.

“It was a massive attempt,” Butler said.

Thieves were able to access about 16,000 Georgians’ unemployment accounts, with more than 50,000 found to be vulnerable and at risk.

“They went in and basically started picking off people,” Butler told Gray.

Georgia Department of Labor says the targets were people with simple or easily identifiable 4-digit PINs on their unemployment accounts.

“Actually it was simple, I could have done better with it,” Harquita Wallace said about her PIN.

Wallace says her unemployment account has been frozen as the Department of Labor investigates whether hackers accessed her account and tries to confirm her identity.

“They asked me if I am who I say I am, and they asked me for more verification. This is a long time to go without income, and it’s pretty scary,” Wallace said.

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Butler says there have been a variety of fraud and hack tries every day of the pandemic, but this was the biggest attempt yet.

“We were lucky here in Georgia; we caught most of it before the money went to the wrong place. But then we still had to stop those claims and investigate them to see who the right person actually is and that is a 100% manual process,” Butler said.

GA DOL had programmers rewrite code to flag any accounts with unsecure passwords and require those people to reset their accounts.