COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s next contract for state-paid consumer protection services took effect Friday for taxpayers affected by last fall’s massive hacking of the state’s tax-collection agency.
Budget and Control Board spokeswoman Rebecca Griggs said no one protested the state’s intent to award the contract to Texas-based CSIdentity Corp., issued Sept. 23, so it took effect at 8 a.m. Friday.
People and businesses will be able to sign up by Oct. 24. Details on how to sign up are expected in the coming weeks. The service is free to those who enroll.
Last year, the state paid $12 million to the credit bureau Experian through a no-bid contract that Gov. Nikki Haley negotiated. Nearly 1.5 million people signed up for that service, which provided daily monitoring of the three credit bureaus for newly opened credit accounts.
The state will pay CSIdentity up to $8.5 million for more extensive monitoring designed to catch other ways stolen identities are used. The total payment will depend on how many people sign up over the next year and when.
Last September, a cyber-thief stole unencrypted information from tax filings on 3.8 million adults, 1.9 million of their dependents and 700,000 businesses. It’s not clear whether any of those people or businesses became identity theft victims as a result.
All 6.4 million are eligible for CSIdentity’s services. To get the monitoring, people must enroll, even if they signed up through Experian.
Under the contract, CSIdentity will monitor only one of the three major credit bureaus, Transunion, for account changes.
Other databases the company will monitor for fraudulent use of personal information include payday loans, sex offender registries and online chat rooms where cyber-thieves sell and buy information. Addresses will be monitored to catch the possibility of mail being fraudulently redirected, while court documents will be tracked in case criminals use an enrollee’s stolen ID when they’re arrested. The tracing of Social Security numbers should alert enrollees to someone creating a false address or alias using their information.
Department of Revenue Director Bill Blume applauded the Budget and Control Board for choosing a company that offered “comprehensive identity protection solutions” for residents and businesses.
“CSID’s services provide a range of credit and identity monitoring proven to cover potential identity theft, and we hope that all eligible taxpayers will take advantage of the state-provided service through CSID,” he said.
Unlike the deal with Experian, taxpayers have a full year to sign up, as late as Oct. 1, 2014. However, the service would end for everyone on Oct. 31, 2014, unless the Legislature funds a third year in the 2014-15 state budget.
The contract allows the state to renew yearly through October 2018, at a cost of $6.5 million annually.