Unemployed Ohioans are struggling to pay their bills, feed their families, and fight to ensure their livelihoods don’t become yet another victim of the state ordered closures. With over 1.3 million individuals in the state of Ohio currently out of work, Ohio’s unemployment system has become known as ‘broken’ and looked at as one of the worst run in the entire country. Now the personal information of Ohioans who applied for unemployment, and entrusted their information to the state of Ohio, was stolen through a data breach.
The data breach of Ohio's unemployment system, specifically the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) under the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, has led to the theft of Social Security numbers, names, and full addresses of our fellow Buckeyes struggling to get by. This epitomizes the reason why Ohio's Future Foundation has vocally and persistently called for a well-thought-out and well-prepared plan to reopen Ohio. Instead, we have seen continual flip-flopping face mask requirements; vague and confusing last-minute government orders, and individuals waiting weeks on end to receive financial assistance from a system they have paid into. Now we have seen the ultimate bottom falling out -- a breach of public trust through the leak of private personal information.
Let us be very clear on one salient point, the issues within Ohio’s unemployment system were well known in 2019 by the state. Last year, they were notified by the federal government that Ohio's unemployment system would not survive a recession due to its poor funding. Now Lieutenant Governor Husted has asked for billions of dollars from the federal government that Ohioans will be paying interest on to the tunes of tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars. What's worse is Ohio's very own Legislative Service Commission, which is a non-partisan entity that advises the state, also reiterated the problems within Ohio’s unemployment system in October of last year. Nothing was done. We're towards the end of May and a cohesive plan has never been in place. Instead, Ohio has a piecemeal plan that has led us to continue to hear of Ohioans who have not received their benefits for months, and now will rightfully be afraid of pursuing those benefits for fear of identity theft.
At Ohio’s Future Foundation our goal is for all Ohioans to be able to prosper, and as such, we are deeply troubled by this news. If you have applied for unemployment and suspect you may be a victim of identity theft, we recommend you contact the credit bureaus. You can reach them in the following ways:
Equifax (800)525-6285 (www.equifax.com)
Experian: (888) 397-3742 (www.experian.com)
TransUnion: (800) 680-7289 (www.tuc.com)