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      Lawmakers creating taxpayer protection fund to help hacking victims

      COLUMBIA, SC (WACH)--Kershaw Co. Senator Vincent Sheheen and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis want to go one step ahead to help victims from last fall's hack at the state Department of Revenue.

      The breach led to credit and tax information exposed; and angry South Carolinians.

      Last October, Governor Nikki Haley, Revenue officials, and the State Law Enforcement Division revealed the hacking incident exposed the information of roughly 3 million people in the state. Lawmakers wanted to know how it happened by holding several hearings on the matter. Former Revenue Director Jim Etter resigned in the wake of the scandal.

      The state partnered with Experian to offer one free year of credit monitoring and lifetime fraud resolution; but Sheheen said that is not enough.

      "That was the largest breach of taxpayer dollars in the history of the United States," Sheheen said. "South Carolinians deserve more than just an alert telling them their information was stolen."

      A proposed $200,000 taxpayer protection fund would pay victims who suffered a direct financial loss.

      "This would be for the first year," Sheheen said. "I think as the legislature and other leaders see how many claims are filed, which claims are found to be directly linked to the hacking scandal, the legislature will have to determine whether to put more funds in it or not."

      The proposal unanimously passed in the Senate and would be run by Treasurer Loftis; who hopes to gain the public's trust again. Loftis said he has plenty of experience handling claims.

      "I can promise you it is going to be transparent, it will be accountable, and it will be efficient," Loftis said. "That is my responsibility. The unclaimed property program deals with tens of thousands of people each year. We deal with millions of dollars; in fact, over three hundred million dollars total.

      "At the end of the day, this is what government is about; putting politics and ideology aside, working together to deliver results, and find solutions for the citizens of South Carolina," Sheheen said.

      Treasurer Loftis said a process will be established for people to prove their loss came from the hacking by showing financial data or records from law enforcement.

      The Senate will next discuss how to pay for the fund.