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A South Carolina agency's website has been hacked and millions of social security numbers and credit and debit card numbers belonging to approximately 77 percent of South Carolina residents have been compromised.
UPDATE: "While details are still emerging, we can already say that this breach of records at the South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) is exceptional, both in terms of the large number of records compromised and the potential damage to confidence in state government that may result," Stephen Cobb, at security firm ESET, said via email Friday.
"The cost is also going to be enormous, given that South Carolina may be required to pay for identity theft protection services for anyone who has paid taxes in South Carolina since 1998," he said.
"Encryption of the data may slow down the process by which the stolen records are converted into cash through identity theft and fraudulent accounts, although that will also depend on the strength of the encryption," Cobb said.
Cobb pointed out that this breach came only a couple of months before people can start filing their income tax returns.
"Fraudulent electronic claims for refunds are a huge problem for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as criminals can easily make fake versions of the income tax withholding form known as W-2, showing that the employer withheld more tax than was owed," Cobb said. "Employers often dont inform the IRS of taxes withheld until several months into the New Year."
(read more at PCWorld.com)
What You Can Do Now:
The state will provide affected taxpayers with a year of credit monitoring and identity theft protection service from Experian.
The state is paying for taxpayers to receive identity protection services from Experian for one year. To register by phone, call 1-866-578-5422. The hotline is open from to on weekends and on
weekdays. To register online, go to protectmyid.com/scdor and use the code “SCDOR123.” At some point, that generic code may not work, and residents will have to call the hotline number.
"Anyone who has filed a South Carolina tax return since 1998 is urged to visit protectmyid.com/scdor or call 1- 866-578-5422to determine if their information is affected," the State Department of Revenue said.
You can also call the individual credit protection bureaus to request a fraud alert. The fraud alert lasts 90 days and alerts creditors that would be pulling your credit report to take extra steps to identify you.
Or you can request a security freeze.
"It stops anyone from accessing your credit report without your expressed permission," according to Juliana Harris with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. "It's a good tool to stop people from getting extra lines of credit."
Harris says if you suspect you've been exposed, it requires constant monitoring. If credit card information is compromised, the best protection is to have the bank reissue the card. Anyone who has used a credit card in a transaction with the Department of Revenue should check bank accounts regularly to see if any unauthorized charges have occurred. If so, the cardholder should contact the credit card issuer immediately by calling the toll-free number located on the back of the card or on a monthly statement, tell them what you have seen, and ask them to cancel and reissue the card. Consumers should also change any credit card web account passwords immediately when unauthorized charges are detected.
In addition to the Experian service, state officials urged individuals to consider additional steps to protect their identity and financial information, Regularly review credit reports, place fraud alerts with the three credit bureaus, and place a security freeze on financial and credit information with the three credit bureaus. Here's how to contact all three credit bureaus:
Equifax Fraud Reporting
Experian Fraud Reporting
TransUnion Fraud Reporting
What to Know if Your SSN Has Been Stolen
If someone uses your Social Security Number when getting a job but does not pay taxes on the money earned, you could be held responsible for the taxes due. If you feel your Social Security Number is being used by someone else for employment purposes, contact your local Social Security office or call (800) 772-1213. An employee will be able to look over their records to tell you if it looks like someone else is using your number for employment.
If you feel someone has gotten loans or credit cards with your number, the Social Security Administration cannot help you. Contacting the Federal Trade Commission or the credit bureaus will be the next step.
If your Social Security Number is stolen, it is possible for someone else to get a bank account and apply for and get loans with that number. Once a loan, credit card or other line of credit is issued to your Social Security Number, the payment histories start to be reported to your credit report. If payments are not made, this can ruin your credit. If you suspect someone is using your Social Security Number to obtain credit, contact the Federal Trade Commission online here or by phone at (877) 438-4338.
(read more at eHow.com)