BOSTON (CBS) – The names, addresses and social security numbers of hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents have been exposed to thieves.

As many as 210,000 unemployed Massachusetts residents who had dealings with a state unemployment office or one-stop career center are at risk.

Hackers may have gained access to their names, addresses and social security numbers.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Don Huff reports

The security breach was caused by a computer virus that struck the Massachusetts Office of Labor of Workforce Development.

It is not just citizens that were exposed. The state is also warning that 1,200 Massachusetts employers may have had their bank account information hijacked by the hackers.

Letters are being sent to everybody who may be affected. If you are concerned that your credit information may be at risk, you can call a special hotline setup by the State’s labor office: 1-877-232-6200.

That line will be staffed 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Friday, May 20.  On Saturday, May 21 you can call between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. From Monday, May 23 through Friday, May 26, the hotline will again be staffed from 7 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 27 until 5 p.m.

It is also important if you may be affected, to take some immediate steps to protect your credit.

Lisa Van Der Pool explains how to protect your credit

“One of the first things you should do is put a fraud alert or freeze on your credit report,” advised Lisa Van Der Pool of the Boston Business Journal.

To do that, contact the national consumer reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion or Equifax and tell them you want a freeze on your credit report. You can do this by following the preceding links to their websites, or by calling the phone numbers below.

Van Der Pool advises that you also get a copy of your credit report and check it closely for mysterious accounts or debts.


1 888-766-0008


Comments (13)
  1. response says:

    If employers are being notified their bank account information has been compromised, is there a possibility, the files employers send in quarterly were also accessed?
    If so, every working person in this state has been compromised.

  2. GB says:

    Is the state unemployment office going to pay the fee to the credit reporting companies for the fraud alert?

    1. Jan says:

      It’s only $5.00 in MA. I think we can all afford that to be safe. Don’t blame the government, blame the hackers. It was only a small window of time.

      1. Mark says:

        I’ll blame the goverment employee who opened the e-mail, or took their laptop home, to expose the virus. Hmmm so they work for the goverment, therefor yes I think the goverment should pay the $15.00 ($5.00 times three becuase of the three credit reporting companies, thus $15.00)
        But I know it’s not gonna happen. Like I have $15.00 spare bucks lying around being on UI in the 1st place.

  3. Ron says:

    I just called TransUnion and added a Security Freeze on our accounts but when I asked to confirm they would contact Equifax and Experian I was advised they didn’t. They would contact Experian and Equifax if I had requested a Fraud Alert and not a Security Freeze. This seems contrary to what Lisa Van Der Pool inidctaes in the video. She seems ot lump together Fraud Alert or Security Freeze together when she mentions that one call will do it because it’s the law that one agency needs to contact the others. Am I misunderstanding what Lisa says or is TransUnion misdirecting me?

  4. Mike says:

    One of the first things a perspective employer checks when doing a background check is a credit report on the applicant. Now, the people who are out of work and looking have been handed another obstacle by the very people who are supposed to be helping. Credit alerts help to prevent identity theft but also make it much more difficult for employers to make the credit checks.

  5. TinCambridge says:

    My husband was on unemployment last year, so I called Equifax, and a freeze is different from an alert, I placed an alert on both mine and my husbands credit reports, but I also bought additional coverage becuase placing a freeze or alert on your credit does not protect you from these hackers using and stealing from your already open accounts, such as bank, credit cards, etc.

    Equifax asked me why I was calling and when I told them about the hacking here they asked if the state was offering any help to protect/resolve the problem, when I laughed the operator said that was not the first time he heard a Mass resident laugh at the question today!

    Once again Massachusetts expects us to clean up their mess, and no help from them as usual. This state gets suckier by the day!

  6. Aimee says:

    I just called the Experian number and went through the automated system to put an alert on my credit report. The system told me that it would share this request with the other two credit reporting agencies as well. I then received a confirmation number of the transaction. No fee was imposed.

    This whole thing really infuriates me because on three separate occasions I called the Division of Unemployment to tell them that when I logged into WebCert my computer kept telling me that their Security Certificate had expired and that my computer wouldn’t allow me to go any further on their site because it wasn’t safe. They kept blowing me off (three Sundays in a row!) and said it was a computer malfunction and that I should just use the telephone to file the weekly claim. Now look what’s happened!

    1. Ken Souza says:

      OMGosh! I started having difficulty submitting my unemployment online as well and they told me to do it by phone instead. Wow!

  7. Ron says:

    In the video Lisa Van der Pool indicates a Consumer can ask for a Fraud Alert or a Freeze which sounds as though they’re the same thing. SImilar to saying “I own a car” or “I own an automobile”.

    I called TransUnion again, this time spoke to two more people and they both confirmed what the previouis rep told me…………………A Fraud Alert is different that a Security Freeze and they do different things.

    A Fraud Alert is only good for 90 days, DOES NOT STOP someone from opening a new line of credit and is free.

    A Secuirty Freeze one has to contact the agency to cancel, or get a temp release. There is a $5 charge. It will stop someone from opening a new ine of credit and if I understood them correctly – it also stops people from accessing your credit report.

    TransUnion witll call Equifax and Experian if someone has a Fraud Alert but THEY WILL NOT CALL if someone has a Security Freeze. The Consumer has to call each organization.

    I then figured I would call the number set up by the Sate – 1-877-232-6200 – to get some direction, spoke to a rep, gave her an overview of what I ran into and she indicated she too was advised one call would take care of it, was confused and would have to check into it.

    The person I spoke to was understanding and helpful so my frustration wasn’t with her but rather the State. I never got to ask my question – What should a Consumer ask for – Freeze? Alert? Both?

    I’ve sent a note off to WBZ and The Boston Buiness Journal looking for help to clarify what a Consumer has to do and Imay just go ahead and contact the agencies to add a Security Freeze but if anyone has abetter understanding as to what needs to be done, please advise.

    Mmmmmmm, just hought of it. If a Freeze stops people from accessing your credit report that sounds as though it may make it even more difficult for those of us who are looking for a job and a prospective employee needs to do some checking.

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Massachusetts.

  8. Denise says:

    That’s right when people are at their lowest and unemployed and possibly loosing everything – hit em again! Why not go after after those life long welfare recipients instead of someone down on their luck that is actually trying to get a job!

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