Gov. Nikki Haley is assuring South Carolinians that their personal information that was compromised when a hacker got into a state computer system earlier this month will be protected.
"All of the information compromised is secure so that there are no more holes that can be penetrated," Haley said.
More than 150,000 residents have signed up for free credit monitoring and identity-theft protection since Friday when the state announced that millions of Social Security numbers and hundreds of thousands of credit/debit cards numbers had been stolen in an international hack, Haley said during a press conference Monday.
A phoneline that the state asked residents to call was busy all day Friday, and many people were having trouble getting through. More than 450,000 people have called since Friday, Haley said.
But Haley said there's no rush to sign up for the free service through the credit monitoring company Experian. Residents have until the end of January 2013 to sign up, she said. The service is retroactive, meaning the company will help South Carolinians with any past or present identity theft problems.
Residents no longer need to call the phone number that was provided Friday to sign up for the service, Haley said. They can go straight to the website protectmyid.com/scdor and enter the code SCDOR123.
The state had residents call the phone number first Friday to ensure that people signing up for the free service were really residents of South Carolina. Experian now has a way of making sure that everyone who signs up lives in South Carolina, Haley said.
If residents still want to call the phone number provided (1-866-578-5422), the wait time is down to 12 minutes, Haley said. About 300 operators are taking calls.
When an adult signs up for the service, Experian will match up any minors that were on their tax returns and also provide service to protect their Social Security numbers, Haley said. Residents should get a letter or e-mail after they sign up to confirm what minors are in their family.
SLED Chief Mark Keel said it may be several weeks before they know exactly what information was compromised.
In the meantime, the state is providing the free credit monitoring to anyone who wants it.
Haley said the state is still negotiating with Experian on a price for the service to South Carolina residents. The money to cover that will likely come from the general assembly, she said.