Security breach impacts Florida’s unemployment site, causing headaches for users

Thousands of Floridians are unable to collect unemployment benefits due to a security breach on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity website

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A security breach has impacted Florida’s unemployment site, leading officials to lock accounts and ask users to reset their pins.

Thousands of Floridians have had trouble accessing their accounts, which has meant in many cases, they did not receive their unemployment checks. That is the case for Javier Pereles. He said he has been unable to get any unemployment benefits for the last month, because he has been locked out of his account.

“I’ve lost hope in the system actually, it seems disappointing I don’t know what else to think. I’ve been blowing through my savings and paying bills with credit cards,” said Pereles.

Pereles said he has been actively searching for work since his job got cut in late April, due to COVID-19. In July, he was suddenly blocked from logging on to claim his benefits. The Department of Economic Opportunity sent him an email citing a security breach, targeting the accounts of nearly 58,000 unemployed Floridians, prompting them to lock accounts and reset pins. The problem is Pereles and so many others have said they have been unable to get back into their accounts to receive their benefits.

“I can say I’ve called a thousand times,” said Pereles.

A DEO spokesperson has pointed to instructions for claimants to use a tool called DEO Verify to confirm their identity. The tool would send an email from the DEO to access the site. Pereles said he never received an email, but found the site on his own, getting an error message when he inputs his information.

“It’s like we’ve just forgotten and this is taxpayers money. I’ve worked for these benefits.” said Pereles.

DEO recommends that claimants use the updated Reemployment Assistance Help Center resource to notify the department of any issues relating to their account. Concerns submitted through this resource are routed to DEO team members. They also recommend claimants check their spam and junk mail accounts for notifications. They should also only have one browser open when accessing the site.

For more information on how to reset your pin through DEO Verify, visit this link.

About the Authors:

Veronica Crespo writes for and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.