Organizations say they’re here to help during unemployment benefit delay | WJHL
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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Five days after a cyberattack left Tennessee’s unemployment benefits system offline, some non-profit organizations said they can help individuals unable to receive their payments.

Geographic Solutions Inc. said they took down the Tennessee unemployment site after “anomalous activity” was found in their network. The company said no personal data was accessed.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said they cannot access unemployment claims as a result, meaning the 12,000 Tennesseans on unemployment will have to wait for their next payment.

Aaron Murphy, CEO of Good Samaritan Ministries in Johnson City, said they’ve heard from several people locked out of unemployment.

“They’ve called us to see how we can step in and help them meet their needs,” Murphy said.

Geographic Solutions Inc. provides unemployment services to several states. They said three dozen states and territories are without online unemployment services.

Tennessee’s site has been down since Sunday. Geographic Solutions Inc. anticipates a fix by July 4.

It’s bad timing as July begins Friday, and rent and bills are due.

“Anytime that you’re waiting on a paycheck or a source of income, and something happens and it’s delayed, then your world seems like all is crashing down,” said Johnson City Salvation Army Captain Benny Carringer.

State Department of Labor and Workforce Development officials said those eligible for unemployment benefits must wait until the site is fixed to file certifications for the missed weeks, which will be paid in a lump sum.

Tennessee state Sen. Paul Bailey called the situation “unacceptable” and said the state needs to do “whatever it takes” to get people their benefits.

But organizations like Salvation Army and Good Samaritan want those not receiving their unemployment on time to know they can get help.

“Helping out with groceries, water bill, power bill, rent assistance. We want to make sure that we can come alongside them to aid them in these challenging times,” Murphy said.

The Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency can also help with rent or utility assistance.

Both organizations provide free food and assistance with bills and rent.

That could be vital for those going without their benefits, as inflation makes budgets even tighter.

“We are here to help bridge the gap as much as we can, especially during this holiday weekend and tough time as it is,” Carringer said.

Carringer said assistance is open to anyone that needs it.

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