Nine months after the Maine Department of Labor outsourced its federally mandated job-matching service to an out-of-state vendor, that vendor has suffered a data breach that resulted in the theft of an unknown number of Mainers’ sensitive personal information.

America’s JobLink of Topeka, Kansas, has become the victim of a hacking incident from an outside source in which the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of an unspecified number of job-seekers in up to 10 states were accessed, according to a news release. The states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Vermont and Maine.

Maine eliminated its Maine Job Bank service within the Department of Labor in July and outsourced the work to America’s JobLink, citing cost savings and better technology. Roughly 12,650 Maine residents have used the service since July, although not all of them included their Social Security numbers in their account information, the department said.

The data breach was discovered Tuesday, and America’s JobLink technicians have since patched the security hole that allowed the hackers entry, the release said. New accounts created on or after March 16 were not affected, the state Department of Labor said.

The homepage of the JobLink website sponsored by the Maine Department of Labor.

Department spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said Maine officials are awaiting the outcome of an investigation by a digital forensics firm and the FBI to determine how many Maine accounts were compromised.

In July, the department outsourced both its job-matching service and case management for Mainers enrolled in publicly funded training programs to America’s JobLink, which describes itself as “an alliance of workforce organizations partnering to produce high-quality information technology, while maximizing the return on investments for members.”

Rabinowitz said the in-house systems used by the department prior to outsourcing were antiquated and did not meet new federal standards.

“Maine is caught between a rock and a hard place in meeting federal requirements with limited funding, because the federal funding is based on population and unemployment rate,” she said.

Prior to outsourcing, the department paid $650,000 to the state Office of Information Technology to maintain the job bank and case management systems during the 2015 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2016. Under the outsourcing agreement with America’s JobLink, Maine pays an annual subscription rate of $465,000 a year, plus an additional $136,500 to the information technology office, Rabinowitz said. That’s an annual savings of $48,500.

The department issued a news release Wednesday about the breach and said it plans to post additional information on the job service website, joblink.maine.gov.

The department advised users of the service to log into their JobLink account to check whether their Social Security number was listed. It can be removed as long as the job-seeker is not actively filing for unemployment benefits, it said. The department did not explain how removing it now would benefit the user, since the hack already has occurred.

The department recommended that JobLink users put a freeze on their credit report if they had a valid Social Security number in their JobLink account. Maine law allows residents to freeze their credit report for free, which prevents thieves from accessing it. It also is possible to place a free, 90-day fraud alert on credit reports with the three major credit reporting organizations, it said.

Those with questions can call the department at (888) 457-8883.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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Twitter: jcraiganderson