Taxpayers need more info to protect themselves

info@islandpacket.comNovember 6, 2012 

The forthcoming information on the state's security breach is more disturbing by the day.

Taxpayers need more direction on how to proactively protect themselves. For example, nowhere have I seen it reported what access to a Social Security number exposes one to. It appears as though someone could open a credit card in my name and run it to the limit or take out a loan. Could I also find my retirement account gutted? Or my Social Security payments going to someone else?

Some information has been confusing. The state is pushing ProtectMyID, which I and hundreds of thousands have signed up for. It's a one-year free monitoring service from Experian, one of three national credit bureaus. A Nov. 2 story seems to imply that ProtectMyID covers all three credit bureaus. Is Experian sharing information with Transunion and Equifax, its competitors? Or are extra steps needed?

The state website also mentions "freezing" one's credit reports. Upon investigation, I find this prevents me (as well as the thief?) from getting a loan or a new credit card without first removing the freeze. Sounds inconvenient, but is it a good idea? Exactly what additional protection does it provide?

And speaking of credit cards, should I cancel mine and try to get along with one card to limit exposure?

The newspapers could help by obtaining and reporting all of the facts in a clear, easy-to-understand format. I'm more interested in this than how the state managed a bureaucratic bungle of epic proportions.

Julie H. Williams

Hilton Head Island

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