The S.C. Department of Revenue says a website allowing taxpayers to sign up for free credit protection after a massive security breach is working fine, but some in Beaufort County find it confusing.
The state is offering consumers a year of monitoring and insurance from Experian after discovering that overseas hackers accessed about 3.8 million state tax records for individuals.
Barbara Lipschutz of Sun City said she fiddled around at protectmyid.com/scdor for two days but was unable to log in. She called a hotline, only to get an automated message directing her back to the site or to call back later. Her friends experienced the same difficulties, she said.
Lipschutz was attempting to put in the activation code "scdor123" by using the "enter" key on her keyboard; she should have clicked a button on the screen with her mouse.
Department spokeswoman Samantha Cheek said problems with logging in have been a common complaint because of that website requirement. The state has recommended that anyone who has filed a S.C. tax return since 1998 take precautions.
Cheek said users might want to check their computer's firewall or restart their browser if they have trouble accessing the site.
Cheek also said the website will be a better bet than the jammed phone lines for consumers enrolling in credit protection.
Samantha Johnson did manage to reach someone on the Experian hotline after being put on hold. However, she doesn't believe the person who answered was in the United States and giving out her information to a foreign call center concerns her.
"To be politically correct, English was obviously a second language for this man," she said. "He told me he was unable to tell me where he was located."
Cheek said in an email there are "a great number of Experian call representatives dedicated to signing up South Carolina taxpayers with ProtectMyId, however, I am unsure as to where they are all located."
She directed those concerned with giving out personal information such as Social Security numbers over the phone to the Department of Consumer Affairs for safety tips. The department can be reached at consumer.sc.gov or by phone at 803-734-4200.