It may take weeks before taxpayers know if they were one of the millions affected in a cyber hack of tax records that occurred last month.
Friday, Governor Nikki Haley announced more than 3.6 million South Carolinians' Social Security, credit and debit card information was at risk after a foreign hacker stole tax record information in mid-September.
To see if you are one of those affected, the state is providing one-year-free service through Experian, a credit monitoring service.
If you visit www.protectmyid.com/scdor and enter the code SCDOR123 in the "activation box", you can sign up for the service for free.
Former and current South Carolina residents are permitted to use this code. If you were not affected or found ineligible, you can continue the service at your own expense or the account will be terminated.
At this time the Revenue Department is working to find out whose information was stolen.
"It was a large file. So it will take time to download that file and reanalyze the data in order to see which taxpayers information has been compromised," said DOR spokesperson Samantha Cheek. "It could be a few days. It could be up to a week or two weeks. We do hope to be able to analyze the data in order to determine exactly which taxpayer's information has been compromised, and we will notify those taxpayers accordingly."
"Experian will be able to tell through their system who has been affected, but the Department of Revenue will also notify those taxpayers."
Anyone who has filed a South Carolina tax return since 1998 is urged to set up an account with Experian.
Also, the Revenue Department advises that if a parent had included a child's information on a tax return, they should sign them up as well.
The state knew about the mid-September breach on October 10th.
"As we were working with other state and federal law enforcement, we knew it was our responsibility there to let the investigation continue just so that we can meet certain benchmarks as stated by the Secret Service," said Cheek. "We do realize that Friday may not have been the best date, but it was the most important date to let taxpayers know that their information was compromised. Again...state and federal law enforcement needed their certain benchmarks in their investigation before we let the general public know about this incident."
The Revenue Department did not say whether there is a suspect in the investigation and only divulged that the hack was made from a foreign IP address.
"It is ongoing. It is in a critical point at this time," said Cheek. "It's very important that we do not disclose any information so that the investigation and the state and federal law enforcement can do their job and find out whoâ??s responsible for this incident...We believe that the system was hacked on a certain server. So we do know that it contained possibly a certain number of social security numbers and possibly a certain number of credit card numbers.
Anyone who has used a credit card in a transaction with the Department of Revenue should check their bank accounts regularly to see if any unauthorized charges have occurred. If so, the cardholder should contact the credit card issuer immediately by calling the toll-free number located on the back of the card or on a monthly statement, tell them what you have seen, and ask them to cancel and reissue the card. Consumers should also change any credit card web account passwords immediately when unauthorized charges are detected.
This month investigators uncovered two attempts to probe the system in early September, and later learned that a previous attempt was made in late August.
Experian's service costs $15.95 a month. The South Carolina Department of Revenue told NewsChannel 15 at this time they cannot estimate how much money the agency will end up paying for the service.