COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH / AP) -- Experian is notifying South Carolina parents they can begin signing up to have their children's credit monitored.
The program is part of the state's response to the hacking of millions of taxpayers' personal data. The theft included the Social Security numbers of 1.9 million dependents on parents' tax returns.
Gov. Nikki Haley announced Friday the availability of Experian's Family Security service, free to parents. It's covered by the state's $12 million contract with the company.
Many children under 18 don't have a credit history, particularly pre-teens. The parent who signs up will be alerted if a credit file pops up in a child's name. If a file exists, the service will monitor for suspicious activity.
Experianâ??s Family Secure identity monitoring service free of charge for one year.
Family Secure monitors childrenâ??s personal information for the existence of a credit file and sends alerts if suspicious activity or signs of identity theft are detected. For minors who have a credit history, Experian will regularly monitor the minorâ??s credit file to see if any credit, loan, or similar account is opened in the minorâ??s name. For minors who do not have a credit history, Experian will regularly monitor the minorâ??s personal information (name, address, date of birth and Social Security number) to see if any credit file is created in the minorâ??s name.
A parent must first enroll in Experian's ProtectMyID service. That's been available since Oct. 26.
â??We continue to work with law enforcement, legislators and great corporate citizens like Experian to ensure that South Carolina taxpayers have the very best protection available,â?? said Gov. Haley. â??If you claim minors as dependents, you should absolutely take the time to sign them up for identity and credit monitoring through Experianâ??s Family Secure.â??
Free one-year Family Secure plan includes:
- Regular monthly monitoring of Experian information for every child on the account
- Protection against material damages that may occur to a child due to misuse of their credit file
- If no credit file exists, Experian monitors childrenâ??s personal information for the creation of one
- Alerts the parent/guardian to important activity such as credit inquiries, public records, delinquencies, negative information (e.g., liens, civil judgments, bankruptcies, and new accounts ) to a minorâ??s credit history
- Activity is detected based on the minorâ??s SSN, date of birth, name or address or any combination of that data, utilizing Experian's proprietary credit file matching logic
- Once activity is detected, the parent/guardian can work with a dedicated Experian Fraud Resolution representative on the best course of action
- Monthly â??No Hitâ?? Alerts if no credit activity is detected in a month
- Comprehensive fraud resolution service â?? dedicated professionals to manage your case and help members recover from identify theft quickly and efficiently
- Daily monitoring of primary parentâ??s credit report and early warning alerts if credit report changes are detected
- Unlimited Experian credit reports and scores
- Experian credit score illustrator to show monthly score tending and analysis
- $2,000,000 product guarantee
As of Friday morning, the Experian call center set up to assist South Carolina taxpayers had received approximately 845,000 calls and approximately 900,000 signups for Experianâ??s ProtectMyID. Access to unlimited fraud resolution beyond the one year enrollment period is included in Experianâ??s ProtectMyID membership and available to any taxpayer affected by DORâ??s information security breach. Taxpayers who sign up for protection will also be notified â?? by email or letter â?? about how to sign up for the Family Secure plan if they claim minors as dependents.
Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp offers South Carolina businesses that have filed a tax return since 1998 a CreditAlert product that will alert customers to changes taking place in their business credit file. Even something as simple as a change to a business address or a company officer change would set off an alert to the business owner. The cost will be waived for business filing tax returns since 1998. Business owners can visit the Dun & Bradstreet website or they can call customer service toll free at this dedicated phone number 1-800-279-9881.
Experian is offering those impacted South Carolina businesses Business Credit AdvantageSM - a self-monitoring service that allows access to a companyâ??s business credit report and score.
South Carolina businesses can sign up for Business Credit Advantage here.
Gov. Haley reiterated that anyone who has filed a South Carolina tax return since 1998 should take the following steps:
- Call Experian at 1-866-578-5422 to enroll in a consumer protection service. (The call center is open 9:00 AM â?? 9:00 PM EST on Monday through Friday and 11:00 AM â?? 8:00 PM EST on Saturday and Sunday.)
- For any South Carolina taxpayer who wishes to bypass the telephone option, there currently is an online service available here. Enter the code SCDOR123 when prompted. South Carolina taxpayers have until the end of January, 2013 to sign up.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)