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      Haley: 657,000 businesses could be affected by international hacker

      COLUMBIA (WACH / AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley said in a news conference Wednesday that 657,000 businesses could be affected by the international breach of the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

      Haley says that is the maximum number state officials are looking at, but some businesses included in the 657,000 could be duplicates.

      The businesses that could have information compromised by the attack on the state agency magnify the issue that includes an additional 3.6 million Social Security numbers and various other personal information that are believed to have been stolen by an international hacker.

      Haley says there are currently 418,000 people enrolled in the protection service offered by Experian.

      SC Department of Revenue Director Jim Etter says authorities have been working to update the system since 2006. He also says files are currently being kept for approximately 15 years, but they are looking at changing that to around 10 years.

      "I will always encourage IT upgrades," said Haley. "What this has taught me, is if someone wants to get in, they're going to get in."

      According to Haley, if South Carolinians paid their tax returns by check, then everything on that check would be compromised. She said agencies and banks in South Carolina are aware of the situation, but residents could contact their banks as an extra precaution.

      Haley says Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. has offered to provide businesses credit monitoring at no cost to them or the state. Any business that's filed a tax return since 1998 is invited to sign up starting Friday at 8 a.m. by visiting their website, or calling 800-279-9881.