Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is advising the public of their identity theft protection options as many people's Protect MY ID subscriptions expire.
Last year, the records of almost 4 million South Carolinians were compromised when a hacker broke into the South Carolina Department of Revenue records. In the wake of the breach, the state entered into an agreement with Experian to offer free credit protection for those affected.
Experian decided not to bid on a contract with the state to continuing monitoring, although they are offering to continue coverage for a fee.
Budget and Control Board Director Marcia Adams announced this week that South Carolina will contract with CSIdentity Corporation to continue coverage. People and businesses can sign up beginning October 24th. The new coverage will monitor additional records, and will be free.
People can also choose their own protection service, and will be eligible for a tax deduction of the service's actual cost up to $300 for individuals and $1,000 for those who file jointly or claim independents.
People can also get a fraud alert or a security freeze, both of which are free.
1) Fraud Alert - It stays in place for 90 days, alerting creditors to take steps to verify the applicant's identity. Consumers only have to call one of the Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA) and that agency will notify the other two. Once the alert is in place, the consumer will receive notice of their right to request free credit reports. Remember, consumers are also entitled to one free credit report from each CRA, annually. (877-322-8228/ www.annualcreditreport.com)
2) Security freeze - It's free and stops potential creditors and other third parties from accessing a consumer's credit report without their express consent. Consumers must call each of the CRAs to do this. Once the freeze is in place, consumers will receive PIN numbers that can be used to thaw or lift the freeze. PINs should be stored in a secure place. The freeze can be placed online at the addresses below or by calling the numbers listed below:
https://www.freeze.equifax.com • www.experian.com/freeze
Equifax: 800-685-1111 • TransUnion: 800-680-7289
For more information on protecting against ID Theft, including information on placing a security freeze, visit our "Identity Theft Resources" webpage at www.consumer.sc.gov.