Nebraska unemployment checks delayed due to cyberattack
Iowa unemployment system also affected
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Bad news for Nebraskans receiving unemployment benefits: Because of the cyberattack on the NEworks system, payments will be delayed.
The Nebraska Department of Labor’s web vendor, Geographic Solutions Inc., was hit with a cyber-attack and taken offline Sunday.
The security breach is impacting those who depend on unemployment benefits to make ends meet.
Cindy Dean has been receiving unemployment insurance checks since March. It’s a big part of her weekly income.
“It’s very important because that’s what I get my groceries on and groceries keep going up every week so it is very much needed at this time,” she said.
Cindy contacted 6 News after filing her weekly claim.
“I did my weekly filing on Sunday morning about 8 o’clock,” she said. “I get up and do that every week, and then I usually check it Monday morning to make sure that it went through, and I could not get on the website at all.”
“I even tried calling, and I got a voice mail that said, ‘We’re having difficulties,’ and then they hang up on me,” she said.
With the first of the month two days away, that’s adding stress for those relying on their benefits; rent comes due, and then there’s car payments and other bills.
Alejandra Sinecio, senior director of Heartland Workforce Solutions, said his organization has fielded a lot of questions about when checks will be sent out. Sinecio said it’s important for beneficiaries to monitor the NEworks website and continue their job search.
“We’ll be open on Tuesday,” she said. “We have extra staff on hand that day so that we can make sure that if and when that system is up, we are ready to go, and we have plenty of staff and plenty of staff for people to come in and file their claims.”
Meanwhile, for Dean and thousands of others dependent on those weekly unemployment insurance checks, they’ll simply have to wait. Payments for those eligible will resume when the system is back online.
“We have to — there’s absolutely nothing we can do,” Sinecio said.
WHEN WILL THE SYSTEM BE RESTORED?
A spokesperson with NDOL told 6 News that eligible filers will receive their benefits, but exactly when that will happen remains unknown.
NDOL said Tuesday that the site was expected to be down at least until Thursday, but a spokesperson said there is no time frame on when the system will be up and running again. They originally had hoped the delay would only be a few days after the system went down Sunday morning.
“GSI is working around the clock to restore access to its systems as soon as possible,” NDOL said in a news release Tuesday, noting that the company said there was no evidence that any user data had been compromised.
An NDOL spokeswoman told 6 News on Wednesday that once the system comes back online, those needing to file a new claim that would have been filed during the outage can request the claim be backdated once they are able to file. And those who aren’t able to complete a weekly certification also will be able to file for the week missed.
“We will be as flexible as possible to prevent disqualifications related to the system being down,” the spokeswoman said.
In the meantime, NDOL is encouraging unemployed Nebraskans to continue looking for work on the National Labor Exchange and other job sites and encourages those needed help with that reach out to any of their 14 offices across the state for support and assistance.
“We have over 50,000 open jobs in Nebraska, and while NEworks is down, our teams across the state continue to connect job seekers with those jobs,” a NDOL spokeswoman said in an email Wednesday. “We are working with a number of employers across the state to recruit talent and match them with unemployed workers.”
IOWA ALSO IMPACTED
Nebraska’s site was not the only one affected by the outage: NDOL told 6 News that multiple states and systems were impacted by the cyberattack.
Iowa Workforce Development informed residents of the outage on Tuesday.
A note on top of its website notifies Iowans that weekly claims will still be able to be filed but that data on re-employment activities will not need to be entered this week.
Those looking for jobs won’t be able to search the IowaWORKS job bank, but can still use the National Labor Exchange to search for approximately 50,000 jobs available across Iowa. They can also still contact their local IowaWORKS office to get one-on-one employment assistance.
Copyright 2022 WOWT. All rights reserved.