South Carolina Lawmakers Vote to End Post-Hack Credit Protections

The credit monitoring service enlisted after the 2012 breach of the state’s tax agency lapsed Oct. 31, but a decision was made not to renegotiate the contract.

by Jamie Self, The State / November 2, 2018
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(TNS) — South Carolina taxpayers whose personal information was stolen from the state’s tax agency in 2012 no longer are eligible for credit protection paid for by the state.

That’s because state lawmakers decided not to continue paying for free credit monitoring, a benefit that nearly a quarter-million S.C. taxpayers were taking advantage of up until yesterday, when the state’s contract for the services ran out.

A spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Revenue confirmed that the services ended October 31.

There were 221,347 people enrolled at the time, said Ashley Thomas with DOR. In order for the protection to continue, state leaders would need to include money for the program in the state budget and negotiate a new contract, she said.

The change came as a surprise to Buddy Beard of North Charleston, who told The State he received an email notifying him his subscription for credit monitoring had been canceled.

“I don’t blame them, but I wish we would have had more notice,” Beard said, adding that he wants the state to continue paying for the protections, aimed at preventing South Carolinians from becoming victims of identity theft or financial fraud.

Beard monitors his own credit along with his mother’s and her husband’s, but he doesn’t think the three of them — all retirees living on fixed incomes — will pay for the monitoring themselves.

“It’s just one more thing” to pay for, he said.

South Carolina leaders agreed to pay for credit monitoring for victims of a data breach that struck the S.C. Department of Revenue in 2012. At the time, then-S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley said victims would receive lifetime credit fraud resolution from the state.

In the breach, hackers stole the personal and financial information of about six million S.C. businesses, taxpayers and their dependents on tax returns dating back to 1998.

Initially, about 1.5 million people signed up for the protections the first year the service was offered. But that number fell dramatically to about 220,000. The five-year contract with CSID to provide the protections expired Wednesday.

Last year, credit-reporting giant Equifax was hacked, affecting about 143 million people in the United States.

©2018 The State (Columbia, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.