At the third press conference in five days after it was announced that a data breach saw 3.6 million Social Security numbers accessed by a hacker, Gov. Nikki Haley said that progress is being made to protect the personal data of South Carolina citizens from further harm.
While efforts continue to limit the damage the breach has caused to individual taxpayers, the cost for doing so could end up costing the state as much as $12 million.
Haley said that so far 533,000 people had called the toll-free number and 287,000 had signed up for credit monitoring. Haley also said that average wait times for those calling in had fallen from 12 minutes to 10.
Go to the website protectmyid.com/scdor and enter the code SCDOR123 or call 1-866-578-5422.
The consumer credit agency Experian is charged with monitoring credit reports and will include reports from the other two major reporting agencies, TransUnion and EquiFax. Taxpayers can sign up free of charge from now through the end of January and have their credit report monitored for a year and receive fraud resolution for life.
The year-long monitoring service usually costs $49.95, but Haley said negotiations with Experian resulted in a cap for the state to pay no more than $12 million. If all those affected by the breach took advantage of the service, the cost would be upwards of $18 million.
Appearing at the press conference with Haley was SLED Chief Mark Keel and Department of Revenue Director James Etter.
Keel offered little in the way of explanation as to the reason why 16 days passed between the time the data was breached and the time the public was made aware of it. Keel said, to go public would have jeopardized the investigation and for the same reason he was limited in the amount of information he was able to provide at Tuesday’s session.
Haley reiterated that the parties responsible for the breach were “creative” and “sophisticated.” She also noted that entities such as Google, the CIA and the White House had been breached. “This is the world we live in. Everyone wants to blame someone for this, but this person responsible is a hacker overseas. There is nothing that the Department of Revenue could have done."