Haley: State negotiates protection for up to 657K businesses - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Haley: State negotiates protection for up to 657K businesses

Gov. Nikki Haley announced Wednesday afternoon that the state has decided to provide protection for South Carolina businesses who may have had tax information compromised when a hacker got into the South Carolina Department of Revenue's servers.

After DOR director Jim Etter revealed in a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday that businesses in the state may be at risk, the governor said starting Friday, businesses would be able to call a toll free phone number or visit a website to get the protection they need.

"What they came back to us last night with was the fact that there were some businesses that were compromised," said Haley.

Up to 657,000 business could be affected, Haley said, but the state has contacted Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., a company that provides credit monitoring and protection for businesses, to assist South Carolina business owners.

On Friday at 8 a.m., businesses can call 1-800-279-9881 or visit: http://www.dandb.com/sc to sign up for credit monitoring.

"We are staying on the very, very cautious side," said Haley. "That's a great service anyway, who wouldn't want to do that?"

Haley said Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. is providing this service to state businesses at no charge to the state. "This is the kindness of a company that sees we are going through a crisis," said Haley.

Another critical detail released for the first time on Wednesday is that checking account and bank routing numbers were compromised -- numbers taxpayers may have used to take advantage of their refund being direct deposited into their account.

"If you paid by check, then everything on that check would be compromised," said Haley.

Computers used to store sensitive financial and personal numbers are at least four decades old, according to Etter. 

"We've been in the process since 2006 of trying to upgrade our system," said Etter. "It takes a long period of time to take the old legacy system and convert that to the new technology."

With more information about affected businesses still coming out, the state Small Business Chamber of Commerce is recommending businesses ask their financial institutions what's in place to protect them. They'll email all 5,000 of their contacts soon and ask them to take it a step further.

"Close out the checking account that was contained by the Department of Revenue, close that out and open up a new account," said Chamber representative Frank Knapp.

It could cost them. Bauknight Pietras & Stormer Public Accountants, sent all their clients an email urging them to at least put a fraud alert on their accounts, businesses too.

"The credit monitoring, the fraud alerts, and the security freezes would be available to those persons that would directly impact their business as well," said Carri Grube Lybarker with the state Consumer Affairs Department.

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