NBC 6 Responds

DEO Launches New Tool to Verify Identities, Help Those Locked Out of System

The DEO launched a new tool called “DEO Verify” after it was hit with a data breach

NBC Universal, Inc.

NBC 6 Responds has heard from dozens of people locked out of the state’s online unemployment portal, CONNECT.

It’s a recurring issue for people trying to claim their unemployment benefits. We first told you about this issue more than a year ago. 

Since then, the state’s unemployment agency hired a third-party vendor to help verify the identities of people with locked accounts.

But people like Debra Smith are still facing challenges getting their unemployment benefits.

“I did the ID.ME and when I did it, the guy said in about three days you should get unlocked,” Smith said.

Smith says she has been unable to access her account since April. She says she followed the steps provided by the Department of Economic Opportunity to verify her identity in order to regain access.

“My driver’s license, my social security card, my voter’s ID, I gave them all of that, and they still have me locked out,” Smith said.

Without access, she can not complete the steps required to get her weekly unemployment benefits.

“I’ve had to borrow money just to pay my bills. So, if they released my money I can start paying these people back,” Smith said.

We reached out to the DEO about her issue and others, in an email a DEO representative told us:

“Florida, like many other states in the nation, has experienced recurring and malicious cyber threats to the Reemployment Assistance system by fraudulent actors. The DEO team has continued to ensure precautionary measures are in place to protect claimant information, including heightened security measures to protect access to claimant accounts. Due to these continued attacks, many claimants are being required to reset their CONNECT PIN in order to access their account.”

The DEO launched a new tool called “DEO Verify” after it was hit with a data breach. The tool prompts users to enter personal information along with showing proof of a valid driver’s license or identification card.

Next, the tool will then send you a new PIN and instructions on how to access your account.

It’s something Smith plans on trying, but in the meantime she’s staying positive despite continued frustrations.

“I am always happy. I don’t let that deter me from my happiness. But, I just want my money,” Smith said.

The DEO says they are also working on the following steps to help claimants regain access to their CONNECT accounts:

  • DEO Verify is now available for claimants to verify their identity to access their account. Claimants will receive email notifications from the Department to access this verification tool. Claimants are encouraged to check their spam and junk mailboxes for notifications from the Department.
  • Additionally, DEO will soon introduce multi-factor authentication measures in order for claimants to access CONNECT and to ensure their accounts remain secure.
  • The PIN reset guide also includes directions to reset credentials to access and assist with other login issues.
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