KENTUCKY, USA — In an effort to prevent rampant fraud within Kentucky's unemployment system, state officials announced the unemployment insurance system will be shutting down for four days.
The shutdown will prevent unauthorized access to customer accounts.
Officials said hackers have been using "computerized automated processes" to guess the 4-digit PIN numbers on users' accounts. While there was no release of PIN numbers, Amy Cubbage, the governor's general counsel, said thousands of accounts were using PINs which are easy to guess, such as "1234", "2020" and "1111."
“When you’ve got a pin like that, it’s easy for a computer criminal to simply set up a program that allows you to try that pin across all of the accounts," Cubbage said.
The system will shut down at 12 a.m. Friday and reopen Tuesday morning. During this time, people will not be able to file new claims or request benefits.
For those who need to file a claim during that time, officials said they will be able to back date the claim once filing can resume early next week. Those who need to request benefits will have a chance to get those benefits, Cubbage said.
Letters will be mailed to all active claimants with a new 8-digit PIN number and all customers will need to re-register their account, as if it is the first time.
“We hate that we have to do this to make things more difficult, but these criminals are relentless," Cubbage said. "They will not stop.”
Some changes coming for claimants include:
- Creating a 12-character password with letters, numbers and special characters
- Verifying your email address and receiving an access code through your email account
- Using the 8-digit PIN provided in the letter
- Telephone claiming system will also require 8-digit PIN provided in the letter
- Reviewing account information to verify it is correct
- If account information is not correct, you will get a paper check
- Only new claimants may enter account information for the time being
“These are unavoidable steps. And they’re not brought on by speed of processing, they are brought on by the sophistication of criminal attacks themselves," Governor Beshear said. "We cannot be sending money to these criminals.”
The shutdown does not impact the internal processes and the office of unemployment will continue to process claims.