Lawsuit claims that the website was not secure, and exposed personal and financial information
According to a class action lawsuit filed by Zimmerman Law Offices PC, DannLaw, and McDaniel, Wolff & Benca, PLLC, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of self-employed Arkansans and "gig economy" workers were suddenly unemployed, necessitating the creation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance ("PUA") program in Arkansas. To manage this influx of unemployment claims, the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services ("ADWS") hired Protech Solutions, Inc. ("Protech") to create, implement, and maintain a secure website for ADWS through which unemployment benefit claimants could apply for PUA program assistance online (the "PUA Application System").
The lawsuit alleges that the contract between the state of Arkansas and Protech specifically required Protech to ensure that the PUA Application System was secure, such that claimants’ personally identifiable and financial information (e.g., social security numbers, birthdays, and banking information) would be protected; however, despite the contractual and legal obligation to protect PUA program claimants’ sensitive information, Protech failed to comply with necessary cybersecurity requirements to secure the PUA Application System. As a result, the lawsuit alleges that the personal and financial information of approximately 30,000 PUA claimants was exposed in a massive data breach that resulted in identity theft.
The plaintiffs represent all individuals who applied for PUA benefits with the ADWS through the PUA Application System designed, implemented, and maintained by Protech, and whose personal and financial information was exposed in the data breach. The lawsuit seeks damages for identity theft, including compensation for the time these individuals will have to spend monitoring bank and credit card accounts, finding and remedying fraudulent charges, and repairing damage to their credit, as well as compensation for their anxiety, emotional distress, and risk of future harm.
"At one of the worst times in the lives of these individuals, when they find themselves unemployed in the midst of a pandemic and resulting recession, Protech made their path to recovery significantly harder by interfering with their access to PUA payments and putting their identity and credit standing at risk," said Thomas Zimmerman of Zimmerman Law Offices PC, who represents the plaintiffs in this matter.
The case is Samuel Acker, et al. v. Protech Solutions, Inc., filed in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Arkansas. A copy of the complaint is available upon request, as are interviews with the attorneys in this matter. The lead plaintiffs may also be available to speak with the media on a limited basis.