Monday, October 29 2012 4:25 PM EDT2012-10-29 20:25:52 GMT
COLUMBIA (WIS) - After Friday's announcement of an international security breach that exposed 3.6 million South Carolinians personal information, officials with the Department of Consumer Affairs wantMore >>
After Friday's announcement of an international security breach that exposed 3.6 million South Carolinians personal information, officials with the Department of Consumer Affairs want consumers to know additional ways to protect themselves.More >>
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and SLED chief Mark Keel held a news conference Monday morning to reassure the 3.6 million South Carolinians whose Social Security numbers were compromised in an online security breach that the protection the state is giving them is retroactive.
Since the ominous announcement on Friday that millions who had filed taxes in the Palmetto State since 1998 might be compromised, the phone line set up by the state has been jammed with over 450,000 callers looking for help. More than 150,000 people have already signed up for free credit monitoring.
Governor Haley on Monday said the protection the state is offering is retroactive to the date in which the breach first occurred. "There is nothing from the time that this would have started that you are not protected from," said Haley.
The hotline on Monday morning was being staffed by at least 300 operators and Haley said that number would continue to rise throughout the day. The governor said the average wait time for calls to 1-866-578-5422 was now 12 minutes.
Those who wish to set up the free credit monitoring can temporarily skip the phone call and use the code "SCDOR123" on the following website: http://www.protectmyid.com/scdor .
Director of Revenue Jim Etter said it's a temporary solution until operators can catch up.
"In order to handle the volume of calls we thought it would benefit the taxpayers to not have to wait on the line," he said over the weekend.
Once you have the code you simply plug it in and type in your information in order to register for online protection that's being offered free for one year.
Haley also pointed out that those who wish to seek the service have until the end of January, 2013 to call and set it up.
Minors will also be protected. South Carolina taxpayers who sign up for protection will be notified about how to sign up for a "Family Secure Plan" if they claim minors as dependents.
Meanwhile, the investigation into who hacked into the state servers continues.
SLED director Mark Keel could not comment on how efforts are going to punish the person responsible. "We obviously want to bring someone to justice," said Keel "We just can't talk about it."
Keel and the governor were also asked why it took the state two weeks to tell the state's citizens about the hack.
"It was done because we were conducting an investigation," said Keel. "We were trying the best we could to try and protect this information as much as we possibly could and by allowing us the time we had to conduct our investigation, we believe that information is better protected than it would have been otherwise."
Haley and Keel said it's still unclear whose information was stolen. "We don't know exactly what was extracted from that database," said Keel.
The governor said the state did not encrypt Social Security numbers on the database of state tax returns. She said that action was in line was the standards banks and other private institutions use.
When asked if anyone employed by the state would face any punishment because of the breach, Haley said there has been no administrative discipline issued. "This wasn't an issue where anyone in the agency could have avoided it," said the governor. "If the CIA can be hacked into, anybody can be hacked into."
Haley said she and her husband Michael had their identities stolen a few years ago. She said somebody opened a credit card in their names and maxed it out. Their credit woes took 4-5 years to clear up. "I wish we had had what we are offering today," said Haley referring to the state's offer of one year of free credit monitoring.
The price this will ultimately cost the state has not yet been determined, but Haley said she should know "a whole lot more six months from now."
"This is what money should be saved for," said Haley, "is to protect people of the state."
If you're wondering about the cost, the state is working on an $8 per taxpayer fee for the credit monitoring. If all 3.6 million signed up for the service today, that would cost taxpayers more than $30 million.
Experian's ProtectMyID™ Alert is designed to detect, protect and resolve potential identity theft, and includes daily monitoring of all three credit bureaus. The alerts and daily monitoring services are provided for one year, and consumers will continue to have access to fraud resolution agents and services beyond the first year.
Complimentary 12-month ProtectMyID memberships available to South Carolina taxpayers affected by the DOR information security breach include:
- Credit Report: A free copy of your Experian credit report.
- Daily 3 Bureau Credit Monitoring: Alerts you of suspicious activity including new inquiries, newly opened accounts, delinquencies, or medical collections found on your Experian, Equifax® and TransUnion® credit reports.
- Identity Theft Resolution: If you have been a victim of identity theft, you will be assigned a dedicated, U.S.-based Experian Identity Theft Resolution Agent who will walk you through the fraud resolution process, from start to finish.
- ExtendCARE: Full access to the same personalized assistance from a highly-trained Fraud Resolution Agent even after your initial ProtectMyID membership expires.
- $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance: As a ProtectMyID member, you are immediately covered by a $1 Million insurance policy that can help you cover certain costs including, lost wages, private investigator fees, and unauthorized electronic fund transfers.