American News Jul 7, 2021 11:19 AM EST

Washington state data breach compromises personal information

A Washington State Labor and Industries vendor used to conduct satisfaction surveys was hacked, resulting in the leak of personal information for thousands of employees and business owners.

Washington state data breach compromises personal information
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA
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A Washington State Labor and Industries vendor used to conduct satisfaction surveys was hacked, resulting in the leak of personal information for thousands of employees and business owners. This one of a series of hacks aimed at American companies and institutions.

According to a letter obtained by Safe Seattle, Pacific Market Research, a company that conducts customer surveys on behalf of L&I, was recently the target of a data system attack. "During that incident, it's possible that a document containing your contact information may have been accessed," the letter read.

The letter added that the document contained addresses, phone numbers and birthdates for workers who had active claims from March 1, 2019 to August 31, 2019.

Additionally, the letter stated that L&I was notified of the breach on June 4, but did not send out a notification letter until June 29.

Washington State Democrat Governor Jay Inslee was heavily criticized during the pandemic for weaponizing L&I as a means to punish businesses with fines for defying his closure orders. Inslee encouraged Washingtonians to report their friends, neighbors, relatives and businesses who defied his orders through an L&I portal, nicknamed Inslee's "Snitch List." When the list was made public, it was revealed that many had used the list to report competitors or settles personal or political scores.

Islee was also directly responsible for Washington state's Employment Security Division (ESD), which was defrauded of funds between $650 million and $1 billion by Nigerian scammers.

An audit discovered that ESD had deliberately bypassed the waiting period for benefits in order to get checks out faster during the pandemic. That action was taken by ESD director Suzie LeVine, who was recently appointed to the Biden administration, at the urging of Democrat Governor Jay Inslee. LeVine was a political appointee of Inslee's who had been a donor to his campaign.

LeVine admitted to unemployment fraud at ESD before the pandemic struck Washington in March, but did not take actions to fix these failures. Business owners in the state are still reporting having received fraudulent paperwork for ESD claims over a year since the fraud was discovered.

The fraud was so widespread that even ESD employees identities were used to defraud the agency.

The state had to stop all payments for days while it investigated what was happening and many Washingtonians left unemployed by Inslee's draconian lockdowns, did not receive payments for months. According to a statement given to The Post Millennial by the office of Governor Inslee, "The governor takes all data breaches of state  agencies very seriously."

It is unclear how many of Pacific Market Research clients, including The New York Times, Microsoft, Starbucks and other major corporations were affected by the breach. The revelation comes on the heels of more reported hacks by Russia against American companies and infrastructure, including most recently the Republican Party.

According to a statement from L&I, 16,466 workers might have been affected. The agency is in the process of notifying them and their 9,400 employers. Pacific Market Research was not available for comment at the time of publishing.

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