Take steps to protect identity

Identity theft isn’t new, although taking steps to protect your personal information has taken on a new urgency in South Carolina due to the massive data breach exposed this fall. Employers can help workers understand the implications and encourage them to take steps to protect their identity.

Letters were being sent in January to the taxpayers and businesses owners whose personal information was compromised. Experts warn it could be years before any misuse of data is detected OR before any data is misused.

The state is offering to provide free credit monitoring to individuals and business that paid state taxes since 1998.

Residents can register through Experian by visiting The enrollment code is SCDOR123. Employees who don’t have access to a computer can call 1-866-578-5422 to begin the enrollment process.

The deadline to apply is March 31.

The process only takes a few minutes. Participants will be required to supply their information and create a password. They also can sign up for text messages, take a risk assessment and view their credit report, minus the score.

In addition, by signing up, the taxpayer will get for one year:

  • Daily credit monitoring

  • Resolution should a theft occur that includes an agent dedicated to their case

  • Id Theft Insurance, including $1 million policy to covered lost wages, certain costs and fees for a private investigator

  • Extended Care that includes assistance for up to a year.

In 2011, more than 8.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft, which was down from the previous year thanks to better monitoring and education, according to the Javelin 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report. But the cost to repair the damage went up 63 percent. The average victim will spend 500 hours and $3,000 to restore their good name and credit.

Thieves most commonly get personal information by stealing a purse or wallet. But they also steal mail, watch as you enter your PIN, go through trash and trick people with Internet sites that look legitimate.

Online banking, however, is not a common avenue for theft, and can be used to catch fraud early if it does occur, experts say. Studies show that people who use online banking monitor their accounts more frequently and their losses are less significant than for those who use paper statements.

Family Trust, like many other financial institutions, offers an ID protection plan and the credit union’s CEO, Lee Gardner, recently advised in an online web post that members get both. Our IDProtect™ provides:

  • Daily monitoring of over 1,000 databases
  • Credit monitoring of major reporting companies, with regular credit score updates
  • A news center with information on a wide range of topics
  • Links to helpful sites.
  • Debit and credit card registration.
  • Coverage for the whole family

If your identity is comprised you’ll also get:

  • Toll-free access to your own consumer fraud specialist who will work with you until your credit and identity are restored.

  • Up to $10,000 expense reimbursement to cover costs associated with repairing your name and credit.

To learn more about identity theft and how to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission and the SC Department of Revenue, SC Department of Consumer Affairs.