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The incredible news that the S.C. Department of Revenue’s computers were hacked shocked everybody last week. If you are reading this article, do not ignore this news. It most likely affects you!
We know that anybody who has filed a state tax return since 1998 is potentially a victim of this cyber identity theft. It includes Social Security Numbers and credit card numbers for more than 3.6 million people. It includes your dependents and minor children. It also includes your business’ Federal Tax ID number if you are a small business owner.
While state officials and the U.S. Secret Service work to figure out how this happened and who might be to blame, it is imperative that every South Carolinian take a few steps to protect your identity and your credit. Our state is providing free protection to you, and our attention right now is to be sure everybody gets protected from this as soon as possible.
The state is providing one year of free credit monitoring through Expedia. You have until Jan. 31, 2013, to sign up, but please don’t wait. It is critically important you act immediately. Again, it’s completely free for you and your dependents.
The state is not allowed, by law, to automatically enroll people in the credit monitoring protection, so here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself.
u By Internet: Sign up at http://www.protectmyid.com/scdor and enter the code SCDOR123. There are simple instructions provided after that to enroll.
u By phone: Call (866) 578-5422. The Experian call center is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The representatives will help you determine if you would like to have an online service or a U.S. mail alert set up.
Once you’re enrolled with Experian, here are the protections that Experian will be providing you:
u Experian’s ProtectMyID Alert: This 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, but you will have access to fraud resolution agents and services beyond the first year. This free 12-month ProtectMyID membership includes:
• Credit report: A free copy of your credit report.
• Daily three bureau credit monitoring: Which will alert you of suspicious activity including new inquiries, newly opened accounts, delinquencies, or medical collections found on the three major credit reports.
• Identity theft resolution: If you are the victim of identity theft, you will be assigned a dedicated, U.S.-based Experian ID theft resolution agent, who will walk you through the fraud resolution process.
• ExtendCARE: You will receive full access to personalized assistance from fraud resolution agents even after the initial ProtectMyID membership expires.
• $1 million identity theft insurance: You will be 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.
• Dependents: You will also be notified – by e-mail or letter in the coming weeks – about how to sign up for a “Family Secure Plan” if you claim minors as dependents.
If you have a business: Dun and Bradstreet is offering free protection beginning Friday, Nov. 2. Business owners are urged to go to http://www.dandb.com/SC to sign up or call (800) 279-9881.
I and my fellow House members are committed to investigating and determining how this cyber-attack happened. The state is working right now, with security experts and the Secret Service, to better protect our computers and sensitive information. But in the meantime, it is critically important that every South Carolinian get protected.
As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the general assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (803) 417-7353 (cell).
Deborah Long represents S.C. House District 45.