Flanked by State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and Department of Revenue Director Jim Etter, Governor Nicki Haley held a press conference Tuesday to update the progress of consumer protection in response to a Department of Revenue security breach. Last week, the agency revealed a foreign hacker tapped into the system, compromising over 3.6 million Social Security numbers.
Haley said 533,000 people had contacted the agency concerning identity protection as of Monday night. 287,000 had enrolled in a program meant to monitor their credit. If you think you are one of the 3.6 million affected people, visit protectmyid.com/scdor to see if you are eligible for free protection services from the credit rating agency Experian. The activation code is “scdor123” to get onto Experian’s site.
State officials estimate that if all 3.6 million people signed up for the protection, it would cost the state about $30 million. However, Haley said Tuesday that the protection fee would be about 40 percent of that estimate. “We have negotiated, if all 3.6 million sign up, we are capped at $12 million. They are not going to charge us any more than $12 million.”
The credit rating agency Experian is partnering with the state to provide the free protection services to those affected. “They check it day by day, if they see something wrong, they are going to contact you and let you know,” Haley told reporters Tuesday. “If anything happens, they’re going to do fraud resolution for life. So they will go back and hand-hold you. They will go back and make sure you are fully taken care of so all those processes that are tied or related to fraud are taken care of.”
Haley says she expects the number of signees for the program to increase rapidly as the wait time on calls has gone down for 12 minutes to under 10 minutes. She said the average registration time is nine minutes.
Haley says she has talked to experts who have studied cases of hacking and they have told her that usually from the time compromised information is taken and they see activity is a period of between six to eight months. “So that is the time we will watch it the closest. They say usually after a year, they don’t see anything. Now that does not mean we’re not going to take this thing seriously after a year, but that is the time frame we want to continue taking a look at; that is the time were going to be focused on.”
The information breach was discovered by officials on October 10, although investigators believe the hacker began accessing the system in August. However, state officials did not publicly reveal the breach until Friday, October 26.
Haley says a significant number of citizens have inquired about protecting their children’s information. Haley says that can be easily taken care of when parents sign up for the protection. “When you sign up as parents, when Michael and I signed up as parents we will get an e-mail if we enrolled by internet or a piece of mail if we enrolled by phone that will match up our children’s Social Security numbers with ours; at that point we will be signed up for a family plan.”
Haley says the state has secured the services of the Alexandria, Virginia-based security firm Mandiant to make sure the breach has been closed. Mandiant was able to close the breach on October 22, according to the Department of Revenue.