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Almost 1.5 million enroll for South Carolina credit monitoring

Nearly 1.5 million South Carolinians signed up for a year of credit monitoring by Sunday’s deadline following what experts have called the nation’s largest-ever hacking of a state agency.

The deadline passed after a two-month extension to enroll. Already-enrolled taxpayers with dependents have until May 31 to enroll their children if they qualify.

In September, hackers stole electronically filed tax returns for 3.8 million consumers and 657,000 businesses from the S.C. Department of Revenue. The stolen tax records dated back to 1998 and included personal information for 1.9 dependents.

By Monday afternoon, 1.4 million consumers had enrolled for a year of credit monitoring and an additional 41,446 had enrolled for family credit monitoring, said Rob Godfrey, Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesman.

Spokesman Greg Young of Experian, the firm providing the credit monitoring, said final enrollment numbers could be slightly higher as more accounts are processed.

The credit monitoring is being provided at no direct cost to consumers. Instead, the state agreed to pay Experian $12 million in taxpayer money to provide the credit monitoring. Experian’s credit-monitoring programs normally retail at $159 for individuals and $239 for families annually, Young said.

Haley and lawmakers are weighing offers to extend credit protection for taxpayers.

A state Senate bill would offer that protection for 10 years. Experian has offered to provide the state an additional year of credit monitoring for $10 million.

The state House included $25 million in its version of the state’s budget that takes effect July 1 to pay for another year of credit protection and upgrade the security of the state’s computer systems. The state Senate will take up the budget next week.

“From the moment the breach was discovered, our highest priority has been fixing the problem that led to the hack and working with law enforcement, security experts and members of the General Assembly to make sure we don’t find ourselves in this position again,” Godfrey said.

Haley’s office and the Revenue Department also launched a data breach assistance team Sunday to help South Carolinians who think they might be a victim of the Revenue Department hacking or of identity theft.

The assistance team will help consumers enroll in credit-monitoring services if they have not done so already and assist callers with taking steps to protect their credit, including helping file police reports and complaints with the Federal Trade Commission. The team can be reached at (803) 898-7638.