South Carolina has a new deal to watch out for us after the massive security breach last year at the state Department of Revenue.
The state plans to sign a contract with Texas-based CSID for another year's worth of credit protection for the 6.4 million individuals and businesses whose information was stolen by hackers. The price tag is $8.5 million, and the company offers a wider variety of services than that offered by Experian, which got a $12 million, no-bid contract in the immediate aftermath of the information theft.
The new contract allows the state to extend the contract for one year up to four times.
But people must sign up for it to get the protection offered, and that includes the 1.5 million people who signed up for the Experian protection. It's not the only way to protect yourself, but you're already paying for it through state taxes, so why not take advantage of it? You can always do more if you want.
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CSID is to begin offering services Oct. 24, assuming that the contract is finalized as expected. Those services include monitoring the Transunion credit bureau and other records, including payday loans, court and criminal records, even sex offender registries, for fraudulent use of Social Security numbers. It also will offer a $1 million insurance policy that covers you if you lose money or have to take time off from work to deal with identity theft issues. That protection will be available even if you don't sign up for the other credit protection services.
It all sounds good, but there's one key difference between the CSID protection and that offered by Experian: Experian monitored all three major credit bureaus, not just one. CSID says monitoring all three would have sent the price tag soaring to $33 million. Lawmakers budgeted $10 million to extend credit protection for a year.
But CSID has experience in this type of work. The (Columbia) State newspaper reports that in 2011, the company worked with Texas when the state exposed the personal information of about 3.5 million people and coordinated credit protection services for 35 million people in 45 countries after a data breach on Sony's PlayStation network.
In addition to signing up with CSID, the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs notes other steps you can take:
The good news is that those who didn't sign up for credit protection when it was offered last year have another chance to sign up under the CSID contract. You should do it, and you should keep pressure on state officials to continue offering credit protection services in the years ahead.