South Carolina residents are both angry and concerned over the breach of security that landed the social security numbers of 3.6 million taxpayers and 387,000 credit card and debit card numbers in the hands of hackers. State officials held a press conference Friday to disclose the breach and outlined steps the tax payers should take to minimize the damage.
The number of records breached requires an unprecedented, large-scale response by the Department of Revenue, the State of South Carolina and all our citizens,” said Nikki Haley. “We are taking immediate steps to protect the taxpayers of South Carolina, including providing one year of credit monitoring and identity protection to those affected.”
South Carolinians soon learned, however, that clearing up the problem caused by the security breech was not going to be as easy as authorities made it sound. State residents that took to Haley’s Facebook page to express their frustration pointed out that the phone number provided by the state told callers Friday night to call back on Saturday.
To receive a free year of credit monitoring from the state, an access code is necessary. Calls to the number on Saturday morning, however, provided the access code.
Two major questions many South Carolina taxpayers have of state officials are why they waited so long after they knew there was a problem to notify taxpayers and what will happen when the free year of monitoring expires.
The S.C. Department of Revenue was informed on October 10 by the South Carolina Division of Information Technology (DSIT) of a potential cyber attack involving the personal information of taxpayers.
Anyone who has filed a South Carolina tax return since 1998 should call 1- 866-578-5422 to get an activation code which will be used to determine if their information is affected. If so, the taxpayer can immediately enroll in one year of identity protection service provided by Experian.
State officials also urged individuals to consider additional steps to protect their identity and financial information, including regularly reviewing credit reports, placing a fraud alert with the three credit bureaus and placing a freeze on financial and credit information with the agencies.
Officials said that of the credit cards, the vast majority “are protected by strong encryption deemed sufficient under the demanding credit card industry standards to protect the data and cardholders.” Approximately 16,000 are unencrypted. Residents should monitor their credit card activity and notify the financial institution if they suspect unauthorized activity.