Haley: State will ensure protection for families in security breach

The press conference held Monday (provided)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - Gov. Nikki Haley released more details Tuesday{}in the S.C. Department of Revenue security breach that exposed millions of taxpayers' personal information.

Haley said the state signed a contract with Experian late Monday.{}The state hired the company for identity security for residents. Per the contract, the cost to taxpayers will be capped at $12 million.

Haley said Experian would offer a lifetime guarantee. However, the company only guaranteed monitoring services for one year. So after a year, if you need help, you have to contact Experian on your own.

"Let's say past that year a person pulls a credit report, and they find discrepancies on the report or something they're concerned about, they will still have access to those fraud resolution services to take," said Greg Young with Experian.

"If we go by credit agencies and what everybody says, it's the{}six-to-eight-month time that we need to{}watch. It's very unusual to see it after a year," Haley said.

Haley also announced children's information{}will be covered with their parents.

"We will get an email by Internet, or a{}piece of mail if you did it 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," she said.

"The Family Secure product is for dependents who are minors and that way a parent can register those children and have their personal information protected," added Young.

Haley said investigators have isolated 5,000 credit cards that had been hacked, but all of them were on older, expired cards. There were a total of 16,000 credit cards that could have been exposed, officials said.

Haley said the state had received 533,000 phone calls.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said Tuesday that state investigators are working with the Secret Service to track down the hacker.

"How often do you find the Secret Service working in state government?" Haley said.

She added these kinds of crimes are becoming more common and said international criminals are becoming more creative.

"Thieves are much more smarter these days," added Young.

Some taxpayers wish more could have been done to protect their personal information.

"If we as citizens pay taxes all the time, then they should have the money to make sure that they invest in good systems that protect people's information," said Charleston resident, Chris Litel.

Keel reaffirmed Tuesday SLED's decision to hold back information on the hack to protect the agency's investigation.

"We had to reach certain points in the investigation," he said.

Keel said Tuesday he could not explain the sophistication of the hack. No new information on where the hack originated was released.

Haley said the DOR joined an unfortunate club of hacking victims that included the CIA, Google and the White House. But she added investigators were working to bring the hacker to justice.

"Everybody wants to blame someone for this. And everybody wants to go after someone for this," Haley said. "There is a criminal overseas that has done this."

While a person to blame has not been identified so far, Jim Etter, director of the revenue department, said Tuesday that the hacker somehow gained employee credentials to the database. He added that only 250 employees have access to that system, but refused to say whether he knew whose credentials were used.

On Monday, Haley said South Carolina used the same standards as banks and other private institutions in its decision not to encrypt Social Security numbers on the database.However, many banks have publicly stated that they encrypt Social Security numbers and store the information behind several levels of security.

Officials announced last week that up to 3.6 million returns from as far back as 1998 may have been compromised by the international hacker, who likely penetrated the Department of Revenue's system a month before the breach was detected by the U.S. Secret Service.

To enroll in the free identity protection, call 1-866-578-5422 or visit and use the code SCDOR123.

You will be eligible to apply for the credit monitoring until January 31, 2013.

The governor's office, in a news release Tuesday, listed benefits included with Experian's ProtectMyID program:

-{}{}{} Credit Report: A free copy of your Experian credit report.-{}{}{} Daily 3 Bureau Credit Monitoring: Alerts you of suspicious activity including new inquiries, newly opened accounts, delinquencies, or medical collections found on your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports.-{}{}{}{} Identity Theft Resolution: If you have been a victim of identity theft, you will be assigned a dedicated, U.S.-based Experian Identity Theft Resolution Agent who will walk you through the fraud resolution process, from start to finish.-{}{}{}{} ExtendCARE: Full access to the same personalized assistance from a highly-trained Fraud Resolution Agent even after your initial ProtectMyID membership expires.-{}{}{}{} $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance: As a ProtectMyID member, you are 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.