Now that the tax data of 657,000 businesses has been added to the list of potential victims of hackers who breached S.C. Department of Revenue records, business owners must be vigilant, according to business and consumer advocates.

Businesses can now sign up for free lifetime credit monitoring from Dun & Bradstreet. Experian, also, is offering free lifetime monitoring for businesses.

The service will help victims discover more quickly when new credit accounts are fraudulently opened, but those affected must be proactive.

J. David Jameson, president of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, believes these precautions should be adopted by businesses, but they do not offer total protection.

“Just for safety sake, they should go ahead and register through the software the state has provided,” he said. “At that point, there is not much more they can do. They just have to be vigilant.”

“It hand-holds them for life through the process should something ever happen,” Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday. “We can't say it enough, you just now have to be diligent of your own finances.”

In the wake of Haley's announcement that businesses were affected as well as 3.6 million individuals, there has been much concern, confusion and frustration from business owners.

“It's the uncertainty that has people worried,” Jameson said. “First it was individuals, and now businesses, too. I've had contact with one of my CPA members who is being asked about (the data breach) by their clients. I've had members in banking who are being asked by their clients.”

On Friday, in an effort to combat the confusion, Jameson sent out the latest information on the situation to Chamber members.

“Everyone feels that they are on thin ice,” he said. “Talk to your CPA, your bank, devise your strategy. Talk to the people you trust as your business advisers.”

While the threat of hackers fraudulently using businesses' or individual's information looms large, it is important not to take rash actions.

“I've heard some misinformation from other groups,” Jameson said. “People are being told to close checking accounts. From what I understand, that would not be a prudent move.”