More PUA applicants report access to personal information; state says the claims are not true and that no more data was exposed

Updated: May. 26, 2020 at 9:01 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - People who applied to receive help from the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program reported another possible data leak within the system over Memorial Day weekend.

However, the state maintains no personal information has been exposed since the leak officials announced last week.

The state notified claimants last Wednesday, when a data leak may have exposed personal data.

Officials said the issue was fixed in one hour on May 15.

However, AmandaLynn Reese says she was able to access other applicants personal data this past weekend.

The screenshots of her account that she sent 19 News investigators are time stamped on May 23.

The screen appears to be a dashboard that contains metrics of how many claims have been filed in Ohio.

She says she’d never seen the screen until Saturday.

19 News asked about this screen four separate times during an email exchange with the Department of Job and Family Services.

We never got a direct answer to whether claimants were ever intended to land on it.

Instead a spokesperson said, “No personal identifying or claimant-specific information was accessible.”

The spokesperson did acknowlege that the state was aware claimants could see the dashboard, however.

He said. “There have been no further data access issues since the one we shared with the media last week. We had one claimant contact us who mistakenly thought they were able to access a restricted area. It’s not true. After pulling the logs for every screen this individual was able to access, each screen this claimant accessed were allowable. This individual was not able to access personal identifying information for any other person.”

Applicants tell 19 News a different story, though.

“If you clicked on the individual metrics it would give you a break down of the individuals by area ,” Reese said.

That's where Reese says the personal information was.

“There was definitely people’s addresses and names and date of birth. I personally didn’t see social security numbers, but i didn’t go on a fact finding thing,” Reese said.

Another woman in Lorain County says she experienced the same thing.

She asked we protect her identity for this story, because she’s worried about what she had access to.

“I’ve been transparent with everyone, because if something happens I don’t want my name on the suspect list. I didn’t do it,” she said.

As mentioned by the spokesperson, the state says it only has one report after May 15 about the possible new glitch.

Tuesday, we discovered there may be a reason though, that there haven’t been several more reports.

“Some people have been calling child and family services for two and three days trying to get a hold of them to tell them they could access this information,” Reese said.

The Lorain County Woman said, “I couldn’t get a place in the cue to speak to anybody, cause it was my second day that I still had a funky screen.”

“It was for a long time that some of us had access to this information, but you can’t get through,” Reese said.

The good news is that both women say the apparent error was fixed on Sunday.

However, because the state maintains there was no error to begin with, claimants remain anxious.

“We have no one to hold accountable. We have no power,” Reese said.

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