What to know as Kentucky's unemployment system shuts down for 4 days

John Matarese has tips on strengthening your passwords
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Posted at 10:57 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 23:26:57-04

Kentucky’s online unemployment insurance system is shutting down for four days after hundreds of thousands of fraudulent claims were recently filed and user passwords were compromised.

All public-facing UI systems will be offline from Friday at 12 a.m. to Tuesday, April 13 at 12 a.m. Claims will still be processed, but no new claims can be filed until Tuesday.

“This sophisticated attack is getting into people’s accounts and could, in fact, take money that would otherwise go to them. It’s a step we have to take,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

Kentucky’s system previously used four-digit PINs to allow users to access accounts, but cyber criminals have started using automated computer systems to guess personalized PINs and enter accounts.

Some Kentuckians have made that an easy guess. Officials said almost 4,000 people used a PIN of “1234.” Another 1,500 used “2020,” and roughly 1,000 people used “1111.”

That’s why WCPO 9 Consumer Reporter John Matarese warns it’s time to beef up your passwords.

“On a short password never use the last four digits of your social,” Matarese explained. “Never use your birthday. That’s very obvious. Pick four numbers that will mean something to you, but won’t mean something to anyone else, such as the date you met your wife or girlfriend. Most people won’t know that answer.”

Amy Cubbage, general counsel for the governor’s office, said roughly 200,000 fraudulent claims in Kentucky were filed in February alone. State leaders said it’s unclear how many accounts have been tampered with.

“If your PIN hasn’t been reset, you can still request until midnight,” she said. “Letters are going to be going out starting tomorrow to all active UI claimants with a new eight-digit PIN. The systems will be back again available on Tuesday. Everyone will have to re-register your account.”

Claimants will need to:

  • Create a new 12-digit password;
  • Verify their email address and receive an access code through their email account;
  • Use the new eight-digit PIN they were mailed;
  • Know that the telephone claiming system (interactive voice response) will use the new eight-digit PIN; and
  • Review all the information on their account to make sure it is correct.

“We know mailing a PIN will be a hardship for people,” Cubbage said. “We know that the postal service has sometimes issues with getting things out timely. We’re making every effort to generate those letters tomorrow.”

If you’ve already filed a claim you don’t need to file again -- just log on with the new PIN and watch your mailbox.

Scripps station LEX18 contributed to this report.