Tax hack Q&A: Governor’s office says 3.8M notification letters to be sent out
South Carolina saw an unprecedented breach of security as millions of taxpayers’ personal information was reported stolen in November of last year.
Now, the S.C. Department of Revenue is sending out notification letters to the 3.8 million filers who could be at risk of their tax information being misused with advise on steps the Department of Revenue believes should be taken.
Here are answers to some of the questions that have arisen from those who have received notification and those who have not:
Q: Has the S.C. Department of Revenue mailed out the notification letters yet?
A: According to information from Gov. Nikki Haley’s office, notifications should have been sent out to more than 2 million South Carolina taxpayers by now. As of Jan. 11, only 1.5 million letters had been sent out, with around 100,000 being mailed every day after, according to governor’s office.
Approximately 3.8 million letters will be sent out.
Q: What does the letter mean?
A: The letter means that your tax return data has been hacked.
The letter reconfirms that the data of all who filed their tax returns electronically since 1998 have been compromised. If you are one of the unlucky millions who have had their personal information stolen, you are reportedly going to receive a notification.
Q: What is the deadline to sign-up for Identity Theft Protection?
A: The enrollment period has been extended, for individuals, until March 31. Plans to cover minor children, whose Social Security numbers were listed on electronic returns, are open until May 31.
Q: If I get a letter, what am I supposed to do with it?
A: The letters are being sent to inform taxpayers who have been affected by the security breach, rather than demanding any action. The letter urges the recipient to take action, by signing up for identity theft protection.
“We are writing you today, first, to confirm that – as an electronic tax filer – your tax information was compromised and, second, to encourage you to take immediate steps to protect yourself against identity theft,” the letter reads.
Q: What is the protection offered and advised by the state?
A: Experian’s “ProtectMyID” system issues alerts when a credit report reflects new activity, like adding a new credit card or personal loan. It is the responsibility of the individual who receives the alert to determine if the new information is accurate and reflects recent financial activity known to the individual or if it is unknown and possibly fraudulent.
If you are signed up and you believe that information on your credit report may be the result of fraud, membership gives you access to a fraud resolution specialist who will assist you. Call 1-866-578-5422 and they will assign you a fraud resolution specialist.
Q: Does the letter address individuals?
A: No, the letter begins, “Dear South Carolina Taxpayer.” The letter, winging its way to the hacked, is a generic address to all.
Q: What about the information of dependents?
A: The letter states, “The tax information that was compromised includes Social Security numbers of you and your dependents, if you claimed dependents on a tax return.” The same applies for bank account numbers, if you listed them on your return.
As well as the individual protection being paid for by the state, Experian’s Family Secure plan is open for registration until May 31. This is to register minor children who may have had their Social Security numbers stolen.
Q: How do I sign up for protection? What if I don’t have an available Internet connection?
A: You can register for free protection from Experian either online or via phone.
On the web, visit www.protectmyid.com/scdor and use the code SCDOR123. From there you will be prompted for personal information in order to set up an account. Over the phone, call 1-866-578- 5422. When calling the number, you will be told about how to enroll online – don’t hang up. If you need to speak to a live operator, be sure to stay on the line. Enrolling as an individual is open until March 31. Experian’s Family Secure plan is open until May 31.
Q: What if I serve in the military and filed taxes in South Carolina since 1998 to the present?
A: The State of South Carolina will work with the U.S. Department of Defense to identify and notify all military personnel who have filed South Carolina taxes since 1998 to the present.