Experian offering to cancel credit renewals for SC hacking victims

ashain@thestate.comSeptember 18, 2013 

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— Experian will cancel credit-report monitoring renewals to S.C. hacking victims, the company said Wednesday.

Experian started emailing renewal notices Friday to the 1.5 million S.C. taxpayers who enrolled in state-funded free monitoring. Experian received a $12 million, no-bid state contract after the massive data breach at the state Department of Revenue last October.

The renewals arrived before the state was ready to announce plans to offer another year of free credit monitoring. Some hacking victims already paid to renew with Experian -- and now want out.

“I was a little upset about it,” said Jim Barker, an Atlanta resident who owns a condo on Hilton Head Island.

The state will award a new $10 million monitoring contract on Monday with plan details coming next month. Experian declined to bid for the new agreement. Experian was offering monitoring renewals at a deep discount from the $160 retail price.

Meanwhile, a pair of state Democratic leaders demanded Wednesday that Gov. Nikki Haley explain why Experian was able to seek paid renewals before hacking victims knew details about another free year of monitoring.

A news release from Democratic state Sens. Vincent Sheheen of Kershaw and Joel Lourie of Richland said S.C. taxpayers “continue to have their personal data abused.”

“As if having their personal tax information stolen and being at risk for the rest of their lives wasn’t enough, South Carolinians now have to deal with solicitation emails from the company Nikki Haley and her team hand-picked,” said Sheheen, who is expected to face Haley in a gubernatorial rematch next year.

The governor’s office accused Sheheen, a Camden attorney, from using the situation for political gain.

"Only a lifelong trial lawyer who has made his living suing businesses would think he can tell a private company that it can or cannot reach out to those it is providing services to,” Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said.

Hackers stole tax information belonging to 6.4 million consumers and businesses from the revenue department in the nation’s largest breach at a state agency. Haley appointed a new revenue department director, who has made security a top priority. No one has been arrested for the theft.

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