COLUMBIA, SC — The S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs will start a new identity-theft division next week.
The four-person division will educate South Carolinians in stopping theft of their personal data and guide victims who are hit by crooks, department spokeswoman Juliana Harris said.
The unit, led by Consumer Affairs attorney Marti Phillips, also will work to enforce state identity-theft laws, including notices that must be sent to victims of large-scale data breaches and letters from credit-reporting agencies when a South Carolinian disputes fraudulent data on credit histories, she said.
An ID theft unit that debuts Tuesday is part of a sweeping state legislative proposal introduced after hackers stole personal financial information belonging to 6.4 million S.C. taxpayers and businesses last year from the S.C. Department of Revenue.
The theft, which included Social Security numbers, was the nation’s largest breach at a state agency.
The bill, which includes centralizing state computer security management, passed the state Senate but was not taken up by the House before this year’s session ended. The House is expected to vote on the bill next year.
Lawmakers gave Consumer Affairs $233,000 in the budget to start the ID theft unit this year. The agency added three workers with the new unit for a total of 38 employees, Harris said.
The state tentatively awarded a contract this week worth up to $8.5 million to Texas-based CSID for a second year of free credit-report monitoring for S.C. hacking victims. The current $12 million, one-year contract with Experian covers taxpayers and businesses for 12 months after they enrolled between October and March.