Gov. Nikki Haley said today state officials don’t know whose information has been compromised by a massive security breach of tax records that have been hacked.
Haley the extent of the breach is still being investigated. “To tell you now would be guessing.”
State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said it could be weeks before authorities learn what information was swiped from the database of 3.6 million Social Security numbers and 387,000 credit or debit card numbers from the S.C. Department of Revenue during a series of cyber attacks that date to Aug. 27.
“We don’t know exactly what was extracted from that database,” he said.
Keel and Haley offered no additional details on the investigation or what country the hacker launched his attack from.
Haley also said that authorities think they have plugged all leaks from the Department of Revenue site.
State officials have advised anyone who had filed a state tax return since 1998 to take steps to learn if their information had been misused by identity thieves. The state is offering one year of free credit monitoring to worried taxpayers.
Some 455,000 people have contacted the call center to begin the process of registering for that protection, and 154,000 have signed up, Haley said.
People have until January of next year to sign up for the protection, which is retroactive to the date the breach occurred.
Those without computers can still get the protection by contacting the call center. Experian is also taking steps to make sure minors are covered.
Experian will be monitoring the accounts of those who register on a daily basis and those covered will have $1 million of insurance to cover any losses if their identity is stolen, she said.
“There is no one who is not going to have the protection they need,” Haley said.
State officials have not revealed how much this protection will cost the state. That’s because the state is still negotiating with Experian on the tab, which is being offered at a wholesale rate, Haley said.
Haley said she does not believe any state employees should be disciplined over the breach because no one could have taken steps to avoid it.
“This wasn’t an issue where anyone in the agency could avoided this,” she said. “This was a situation where a sophisticated, intelligent criminal got into a database and was unbelievably creative in how they did it.”
Residents can call 866-578-5422 or visit www.protectmyID.com/scdor and enter the activation code SCDOR123. Haley said the wait time is down to 11 minutes or so and should improve even more.
The S.C. Consumer Affairs Department planned to add part-time staffers to answer phone calls during business hours starting today. Call 803-922-1594 for advice to request a freeze on your credit records. Privacy advocates say that is the surest way to block identity theft.
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