By Stan Welch
Senator Billy O’Dell and Senator Kevin Bryant have been named to co-chair a Senate investigative committee to look into the extraordinary breach of security that allowed a hacker to steal more than three and a half million citizens’ personal and financial information.
Last month, officials of the South Carolina Department of Revenue reported that 3.6 million Social Security numbers had been hacked, as well as hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers. Governor Haley later conceded that as many as 657,000 businesses in the Palmetto State could be impacted.
The state moved quickly to forge an agreement with Experian, a credit monitoring company specializing in fraud protection, to provide that protection to those affected. The first year will be at no charge to the individual. Also, if their accounts are found to have been compromised, they will be eligible for free fraud resolution for life.
What the arrangements might be after that interval remains to be seen, although at least one class action suit has been filed by an Upstate attorney.
Sen. Bryant says he is outraged by the breach. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me this could happen anywhere, to any state. Well, the lion eats the slowest zebra. And these crooks look for the easiest target. And we were an easy target. The questions are basically how did this happen and how do we prevent it from ever happening again.”
Bryant also challenged Governor Haley’s decision to contract with Experian without seeking bids for the services. “This is going to end up meaning a huge amount of business for that company. Why aren’t they paying us for the first year?”
Sen. O’Dell says he has no problem with that decision. “I think the Governor has that authority and I think the need to get protections in place was of the utmost importance at the time. I am hopeful that we will be able to start meeting to get organized sometime next week.”
He said that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman told him and Bryant to do whatever they had to in order to find out what happened and to put in place the means to prevent it. “He said we have the authority to subpoena if we need to, and we intend to use our full authority if need be to prevent this type of catastrophe from happening again.
Bryant says one question that troubles him is why the DOR didn’t take advantage of the protection available through “the state’s IT systems. “We had safeguards we could have put in place but we failed to. That is incredible to me.”
The best way to enroll in the protection with Experian is online. Log on to www.protectmyid.com/scdor enter code: scdor123. You may also call Experian at 1-866-578-5422. You will not be charged for the first year; however, options to extend this coverage are being explored.
Bryant said, “When this type of information gets into the wrong hands, lifetime protection is essential. I encourage businesses to enroll in protection offered by Dun and Bradstreet. This may be done at www.dandb.com/sc. Some constituents are going a step further by freezing their credit with the major credit agencies. If you wish to do this, here is their contact information:
Equifax www.equifax.com( (888) 397-3742, Experian www.experian.com (866) 578-5422, & TransUnion www.transunion.com (800) 888-4213