SC opens bidding for identity theft protection contract

— At the beginning of July, someone spent $600 at a Michaels craft store in Michigan, using the debit card of a Hartsville attorney.

The only problem?

That attorney never has shopped at a Michaels or been to Michigan. Her identity had been stolen, leading to her bank account being frozen for three weeks until her bank sent her another debit card.

“It was very difficult,” said the attorney, whose name The State newspaper is withholding at her request given her recent identity theft. “I had to get help from my family during that time since I did not have access to my banking account or my savings account.”

Because she used her debit card to pay her state taxes online, the attorney blames the theft of her identity on an international hacker who, last year, stole the personal information of 6.4 million consumers from the S.C. Department of Revenue last year.

In response, the state Budget and Control Board opened up the bidding process Tuesday for a new state contract, worth up to $10 million, to provide identity-theft security to affected consumers past October, when the state’s current security contract with Experian expires.

The contract will provide S.C. taxpayers with credit monitoring, change-of-address monitoring, payday-loan monitoring and “Internet surveillance,” including “scanning black market or underground websites” to detect fraudulent activity. The contract also will give identity-theft insurance to every taxpayer to cover “identity-restoration costs, losses due to identity theft, lost wages and legal fees and expenses” of up to $1 million. The insurance would not have a deductible.

“This … is a continuation to what we did last year, which is making sure the people of South Carolina continue to be protected,” Gov. Nikki Haley said, adding the state also plans to hire a “chief informational security officer.”

After the breach, the state awarded a $12 million emergency contract to Experian, the Ireland-based information services company. That contract will expire in October. This contract, which will be awarded through the state’s procurement office, will be the state’s first competitively bid identity-theft contract.

In addition to the identity-theft insurance, state lawmakers included $200,000 in the state budget to reimburse anyone who can prove they have been a victim of identity theft related to the data breach — a fund sponsored by state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw. The State Treasurer’s Office is working on a procedure to determine the eligibility for the fund. So far, no one has filed a claim, according to Daniel Brennan, a spokesman for Treasurer Curtis Loftis.

The Hartsville attorney said she is looking into filing a claim, but it could be difficult to prove her identity was lost by the state. She has used her debit card online before but said she limits it to PayPal transactions – a company that offers more secure online payment options – and to pay her utility bill.

“It’s really hard to tell if they are a victim of the breach or not,” said Juliana Harris, spokeswoman for the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs, which is setting up an identity-theft unit to help people navigate their options if they become victims. “Our information is out there in so many different ways, there is no telling how it was compromised.”

READ: Identity Theft protection RFP’h3

SC RFP for identity theft protection by thestate

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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