Harrell slams SC gov on WTMA radio program

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Statehouse Speaker Bobby Harrell had hard words for the investigation into the security breach that exposed millions of Social Security numbers on a WTMA radio program Wednesday morning.

On WTMA's Tara Servacius Show, Harrell slammed Gov. Nikki Haley's response to the crisis, saying information should have been released as soon as state officials learned of the cyber attack.

According to state officials, they were alerted to the hack on Oct. 10 but did not make public information of the breach until Oct. 26.

"It makes me pretty angry, frankly," Harrell said Wednesday. "I think it was just plain wrong."

Harrell said the General Assembly needs to take control of investigating what happened inside the state government that led to the breach.

"I think we (the General Assembly) have to sit down and ask the hard questions to the appropriate people and put them under oath when we ask those questions and make sure we know the facts before we go off and do whatever," he said.


Servacius said Harrell was the first to answer questions about the hack and admit that there may be personnel in the state government to blame.

"We have enough facts for the public to begin formulating what they think happened and (determine) exactly who they're angry at," Harrell said. "But that's not the way the General Assembly ought to do it."

Harrell said the investigation coming out of the General Assembly would happen in the next couple months, but added the timing of the crisis delayed everything because the state House won't organize until after Thanksgiving.

Officials announced on Oct. 26 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.

That number was revised Wednesday to as many as 3.8 million returns.

To date, approximately 700,000 people have registered for identity protection services through Experian, the company the state contracted in to help residents.

None-the-less, Dan Ungerer, a consultant with J. Stengel Consulting says{}there are more ways than one to protect yourself from identity fraud.

"Not only just monitoring your credit report but, one of the top things that you can do is that you can freeze your credit report," said Ungerer.{}"That pretty much, 25 percent of all ID theft could stop right then and there if you have your credit report frozen. It's a free service where basically you have to contact all three of the credit bureaus and once you freeze it its something that is permanent."

Ungerer says if you decide to make a large purchase while your report is frozen you have the option of un-freezing and re-freezing.