Only 1/3 of compromised tax payers are protected

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - On WMBF News Today, WMBF News Reporter Alex Holley was live from the Myrtle Beach branch of the Department of Revenue with important details regarding the South Carolina security breach.

Letters are still in the mail to let folks know if their personal information has been compromised. So if you think you're in the clear, your letter could be on its way. But even with this threat, not many people are actually signing up for the state's protection service. Experts say that's surprising because this is so dangerous.

"The fact that someone potentially has your identity," said Kathy Graham with the Better Business Bureau. "They could get a driver's license in your name, they could get a cell phone in your name, they could do all sorts of things and commit crimes. It's very dangerous and people need to take it seriously because for the rest of their lives they're going to have to monitor their credit."

Thursday was the original deadline for residents to sign up for the free Protect My ID service provided by the state. The deadline was pushed back to March 31 when a vast majority of South Carolinians failed to register as the date approached.

The latest numbers show residents are still failing to protect themselves with the Protect My ID service. Only one million out of the three million compromised tax payers in South Carolina have signed up for "Protect my ID" program. Only 30,000 families have taken advantage of "Family Secure," which covers your kids.

The Better Business Bureau says it's shocking more people aren't signing up, especially since hackers can do so much with your personal information. But some people say they're just receiving their letter, and so they're deciding to the best way to react.

"We only got the letter a couple of days ago," said Helen Spada. "And it's happened quite a while ago. We haven't done anything. We've watched our accounts. That type of thing."

The new deadline for taxpayers to sign up is March 31. But even when you do sign up for "Protect My I.D.", the work doesn't stop there.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue is spending $1.3 million to mail out letters and information to you and others affected by the hacking. It's to grab your attention so you'll sign up to protect yourself. But there seems to be one important group that's being forgotten in all of this, and that's children.

"Your child has a social security number and a birth date," said Graham. "And that is on the information that has been compromised. So these people could go ahead and wait 10 years to go ahead and open up a credit cards when your child goes to apply for college they have trashed credit. Could be wanted for crimes."

If you have children, then once you sign up for the "Protect My I.D." service, your work to protect your family doesn't stop there. The state tells WMBF news you then have to wait up to three weeks for another notification letter or email to give you a code allowing you to sign up any dependents. So many people will have to make sure they're checking their email or watching their mailbox, because only then will a dependent's information be safe with the service called "Family Secure".

This seems to be a step a lot of folks are missing, as only 30,000 people have signed up their families. Taxpayers like Spada feel the state should be doing more.

"Whatever they can to help people," said Spada. "If you don't know what to do with a letter, or you don't have access to a computer or you're not familiar with what to do, what do those people do?"

Since many people have to wait longer to get their Family Secure code, the state placed the deadline to sign up much later in the year, in May.

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