ARKANSAS, USA — Good news for self-employed people in Arkansas, the state's pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) website is back up and running after a potential data breach caused thew website to shut down for a few days.
5NEWS spoke with the Arkansas Secretary of Commerce as well as those looking to file for unemployment about difficulties with the pandemic unemployment website.
"The website is up, and we've encouraged those by sending an email notification to those applicants who have been approved to go ahead and file their weekly claims," Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said.
Tonya Bibrowicz is like many in Arkansas who, after weeks of trying every method of filing for unemployment, finally got the green light on Wednesday (May 20).
"Probably about 11:30 a.m. today the website was up, and I was able to actually also file my weekly claim that we weren't allowed to on the 18th because of it being down," Bibrowicz said.
Even so, Bibrowicz told 5NEWS the whole process was not handled properly.
"The entire experience has been a joke. Trying to get through to anybody has," she said.
The mother of two special needs children is self-employed as a housekeeper, and due to the COVID-19, she said she lost all of her clients because her son is immunocompromised.
However, other Arkansans are still struggling to file for unemployment. Damien Denmark said he's called the hotline countless times, waited in long lines at the unemployment office, and contacted his local state representatives.
"I'm still in the process. I'm still under review, I even called today to confirm everything on my end was fine but still under review and still no success at all," Denmark said.
Denmark hopes to get more information about the ongoing situation in the coming days.
"I just want more clarification. I just want answers," he said.
Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the state is aware of the issues and trying to fix them.
"Our team will continue to work around the clock to make sure the system goes smoothly, the payments are processed, and that the applicants are able to file their weekly claims so we can continue this process and then hopefully get the back payments out to them in a timely manner," Preston said.
Secretary Preston said Friday (May 22) is when he expects those people to see benefits deposited in their bank accounts.