South Carolina’s new credit protection contract for taxpayers in effect

  • Posted: Friday, October 4, 2013 12:38 p.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina’s next contract for state-paid consumer protection services took effect Friday for taxpayers affected by last fall’s massive hacking of the state’s tax-collection agency.

Budget and Control Board spokeswoman Rebecca Griggs said no one protested the state’s intent to award the contract to Texas-based CSIdentity Corp., issued Sept. 23, so it took effect at 8 a.m. Friday.

People and businesses can begin signing up Oct. 24. The service is free to those who enroll.

Last year, the state paid $12 million to the credit bureau Experian through a no-bid contract that Gov. Nikki Haley negotiated after state officials learned of the cyber-theft last October. Nearly 1.5 million people signed up for that credit-monitoring service, dubbed Protect My ID, which provided daily monitoring of the three credit bureaus for newly opened credit accounts.

The state will pay CSID up to $8.5 million for more extensive monitoring designed to catch other ways stolen identities are used. The state’s total payment will depend on how many people sign up over the next year and when.

Last September, a cyber-thief stole unencrypted information from tax filings on 3.8 million adults, 1.9 million of their dependents, and 700,000 businesses. It’s not clear whether any of those people or businesses became identity theft victims as a result.

All 6.4 million are eligible for CSID’s services. To get the monitoring, people must enroll, whether they signed up through Experian or not. The service will not transfer. Details on how to sign up are expected later this month.

Under the contract, CSID will monitor only one of the three major credit bureaus, Transunion, for account changes.

Other databases the company will monitor for fraudulent use of personal information include payday loans, sex offender registries and online chat rooms where cyber-thieves sell and buy information. Addresses will be monitored to catch the possibility of mail being fraudulently redirected, while court documents will be tracked in case criminals use an enrollee’s stolen ID when they’re arrested. The tracing of Social Security numbers should alert enrollees to someone creating a false address or alias using their information.

Unlike the deal with Experian, taxpayers have a full year to sign up, as late as Oct. 1, 2014. However, the service would end for everyone on Oct. 31, 2014, unless the Legislature funds a third year in the 2014-15 state budget.

The contract allows the state to renew yearly through October 2018, at a cost of $6.5 million annually.

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