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      SC residents can do more to avoid identity theft

      Department Spokesperson Juliana Harris said despite fears of identities at risk, it is not too late to take a proactive approach.

      The recent breach at the South Carolina Department of Revenue has meant more phone calls at the state Department of Consumer Affairs from concerned residents.

      Department Spokesperson Juliana Harris said despite fears of identities at risk, it is not too late to take a proactive approach. The first step is to place a security freeze on credit reports.

      "You have to contact the three major credit reporting agencies," Harris said. "Those are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It is free for South Carolina residents. It stops anybody from accessing your credit report without your permission. I can't take your social security number and open up a new line of credit with it."

      In a press conference Monday morning, Governor Nikki Haley said she knows the risks first hand.

      "Michael (Haley) and I had our identities stolen several years back. It took well over five years. We are still trying to recover from what happened. It is not an easy process."

      Harris said consumers can also place an initial fraud alert on their reports. She said people should review their credit at least once a year.

      "We have to take it upon ourselves to be vigilant about monitoring our credit reports for the rest of your life. It is a good practice."

      Harris also warns residents to look out for unsolicited phone calls, emails, and text messages asking for money or information in order to check reports. She said those are scams; and that the government will never ask for personal information.

      The contact information for all three credit agencies are listed below:

      Equifax: 800-685-1111

      www.freeze.equifax.com

      Experian: 888-397-3742

      www.experian.com/freeze

      TransUnion: 800-680-7289

      http://freeze.transunion.com