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Deloitte Is Giving Unemployed Gig Workers In Some States Something Extra to Worry About

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Imagine being an out-of-work independent contractor living in Ohio during this pandemic, anxious and unsure of when you’re actually going to get some financial assistance from the state because Ohio’s unemployment systems are being blown up with regular unemployment claims. Finally you get word that you can now file for unemployment benefits through the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was specifically created under the CARES Act for gig workers or partially unemployed individuals who are not eligible for the usual unemployment insurance.

Let’s say you filed your PUA claim and it was accepted. At long last, there will soon be money deposited in your bank account every couple of weeks while you look for work. Then you get this email from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services:

Dear PUA Applicant:

Deloitte Consulting is currently under contract with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to assist the state of Ohio in administering the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Deloitte discovered on May 15, 2020 that your name, Social Security number, and street address pertaining to your application for and receipt of unemployment compensation benefits inadvertently had the capability to be viewed by other unemployment claimants. Thereafter, Deloitte immediately began an investigation and upon discovering the exposure, Deloitte immediately took steps to stop further access to and exposure of your personal information.

At this time, there is no evidence or indication to believe that your personal information was improperly used; therefore, our actions, as well as the actions you may want to consider, are preventative.

As a precaution, you may want to monitor your credit by obtaining a copy of your credit report from one of the three national credit bureaus. Federal law entitles every individual to one free credit report per year from each of the three main bureaus.

Awesome. Just when things were starting to go your way, now you have to worry about some Uber driver who was just laid off possibly knowing who you are, where you live, and the nine most precious digits you own. First, your job was taken from you. Now potentially your identity.

Anyway, Deloitte said it would offer free credit monitoring services to all PUA applicants in Ohio for a year.

But Ohioans aren’t alone. Data breaches also occurred last week in the PUA systems in Illinois and Colorado, exposing the personal information of thousands of claimants. And what’s the common link? Deloitte, of course.

In Illinois, nearly 32,500 PUA applicants had their personal information available for all to see for a short time, according to IllinoisPolicy.org. A small business owner from downstate Illinois, who was on the unemployment site to receive assistance herself, noticed people’s exposed data on May 15 and contacted her local state representative, who then alerted the governor’s office.

In April, Deloitte Consulting was awarded a $22 million no-bid contract (emphasis added because why not bid out a project with this much importance?) by the state of Illinois to build the new PUA claims system and to manage a call center, according to IllinoisPolicy.org.

During his daily COVID-19 press briefing on May 18, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker threw Deloitte under the bus, essentially saying they built the system, they are responsible for the data breach. In a statement to CBS 2 News in Chicago, Deloitte tried to douse the fire:

We are deeply committed to protecting the personal information of our clients and the people they serve. A unique circumstance enabled one Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimant in Illinois to intermittently access a restricted page on the state’s website. Within an hour of learning of this issue, we identified the cause and stopped the unauthorized access to prevent additional occurrences. The only person to inadvertently access the restricted page is the one who reported it. Out of an abundance of caution, we are providing credit monitoring to those potentially impacted by this issue.

In Colorado, claimants’ personal information on that state’s PUA system was exposed for nearly TWO WEEKS, according to the Colorado Sun:

Deloitte, which provides similar technology to other states, mistakenly gave users privileged functions beyond the role of a regular claimant. It allowed users to search and potentially see another claimant’s “correspondence,” which could include a name and Social Security number.

The search function was enabled from May 2 to May 15, at which time Deloitte discovered the problem and blocked it from occurring again. The company told the state that according to its logs, during the two-week period only six people saw the searchable screens.

All six people have been contacted. There is no evidence that those users searched other accounts, according to the vendor’s logs.

The 72,000 people in Colorado’s PUA system were offered 12 months of free credit monitoring by Deloitte.

Fortunately, as of right now, all three of these data breaches haven’t turned out to be a horrible nightmare for the unemployed workers whose names, addresses, and SSNs were accidentally exposed, but it still has to be pretty nerve-wracking for them.

Between these three PUA system data breaches and the pile of junk it built to handle unemployment claims in the state of Florida, Deloitte Consulting’s reputation must be taking a bit of a hit, right? But don’t worry, Uncle D. will again be ranked among the top consulting firms to work for in the U.S. because of the culture, people, work/life balance, or whatever.

Related articles:

Please Don’t Call Deloitte If Your House Is On Fire
Florida Governor Is Not Impressed with Deloitte’s Handiwork
Deloitte Gets Big 4 Bragging Rights In 2020 Vault Consulting 50

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.



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Nevada launches system to accept gig workers’ weekly claims – KRNV My News 4

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Point of View: Florida unemployment system still a mess amid COVID-19 crisis, especially for gig workers – Opinion – The Palm Beach Post

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Gig workers, independent contractors (also called “1099 workers”) and the self-employed don’t qualify for state unemployment. But they qualify for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance included in the CARES Act passed by Congress. They must still apply through the rickety Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s system.

Ena Beatty and her 23-year-old son applied for unemployment benefits together in mid-March.

Her son, Nick, has already received his first state unemployment check and another one is on the way. He’s also received three $600 checks from the federal government.

Ena, meanwhile, still is waiting to see when and if she will get help. It’s been almost two months since she applied.

>>>Related content: Editorial: Probe of jobless benefits system worthless without fixes

>>>Related content: Coronavirus Florida: Editorial: Do more to fix state’s broken jobless benefits system, policy

Why Ena of Indialantic and her son have had difference experiences might rest in the fact that she’s a gig worker during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ena, 55, used to take tourists from Port Canaveral on tours and hand out food and alcohol samples at grocery stores. Her son had a regular job at the now-shuttered Lucky’s Market in West Melbourne.

“Everyday is another worry and wondering how we’re going to get by,” said the single mother who lives with son Nick, who’s stepped up to pay the bills, and her 16-year-old daughter.

Gig workers, independent contractors (also called “1099 workers”) and the self-employed don’t qualify for state unemployment. But they qualify for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance included in the CARES Act passed by Congress. They must still apply through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s system.

Yes, they qualify for these benefits but getting their hands on them is a different story.

Florida’s handling of unemployment claims has been, for the lack of a better word, a mess. For weeks, we’ve been documenting glitches and errors with the online system, people whose applications have been pending for too long and people who have been rejected despite apparently qualifying for help.

While some regular and full-time workers like Nick are starting to receive their benefits — though thousands are still are waiting — people like Ena appear to be facing the longest waits, Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, told me.

I emailed the DEO asking if that’s truly the case and why but didn’t get any answers. Sirois believes that might be explained by the fact applicants had to apply for state benefits, be deemed ineligible and then, in some cases, reapply for federal assistance, which Ena did on April 26. Also, it wasn’t until April 28 that Florida rolled out its Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Sirois said.

That leaves these already-vulnerable independent workers, who don’t receive employer-provided health insurance and benefits, in an even more vulnerable situation.

And it’s not just independent workers who are experiencing delays. Lawmakers across Florida are being flooded with messages from all kinds of people who struggled to get benefits.

Emails sent to Brevard state Rep. Randy Fine’s office paint a picture of what’s happening. Fine has said his office spends much of each day helping Brevard residents trying to navigate the unemployment process.

“I cant believe! I cant log in! The site doesn’t let me! I have no income. Why is this this hard?” an applicant wrote on April 20.

“I am a teacher who was furloughed in March… I filed (for) unemployment right away and to this day I am still in pending status,” a woman wrote on April 24.

“I logged into the system this morning after it has been down since last week and now I show up as ineligible with no explanation. No ONE from the DEO has ever contacted me. I have tried all day to reapply for benefits and the system is broken,” a man wrote on April 27.

Only 48% of more than 1.3 million unique jobless claims have been paid out as of May 11, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The situation for those requesting federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (independent workers and others who don’t qualify for state benefits) is slightly worse: 43% of 52,549 claims processed in Florida were paid out as of May 11.

No state was prepared for the flood of jobless claims the coronavirus has caused. But Florida has been notoriously slow in processing claims — it was among the slowest in the nation as of early April, according to an Associated Press analysis. It’s unclear where it stands today.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered an investigation of the $77.9 million system and the state’s contract with Deloitte, the company that built it.

As government bureaucrats try to figure who dropped the ball, people like Ena, who hasn’t worked since late February, are paying the price despite having lost their livelihood through no fault of their own.

Making the problem worse is the lack of information coming from the DEO on when these people can expect to see a check. Even lawmakers like Sirois are having a hard time getting through to ask questions on behalf of their constituents.

“You will receive info mid-week next week,” said an April 25 email from Jonathan Satter, secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services.

The recipient was Melbourne resident Blake Moia, a contractor for an event production company, who had emailed asking for help after his March 15 application was rejected. He reapplied on April 25.

“Mid-week next week” should’ve happened two weeks ago. Checking his still-pending application feels now like an exercise in futility — that’s if he’s able to log into the state website without getting booted off.

“I stopped checking for the most part because I kind of gave up, Moia said.

The problem is giving up, while perhaps the only way to deal with a tortured wait, isn’t an option people like Moia can afford right now.

UPDATE: Blake Moia finally got his application approved, and this week received $226.

ISADORA RANGEL, VIERA

Editor’s note: Rangel is FLORIDA TODAY’s public affairs and engagement editor and a member of the Editorial Board.

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Las Vegas gig vet says system ‘doesn’t fit what we do’

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