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FORMER GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE ALSO CALLS FOR “IDENTITY THEFT TAX CREDIT”

S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) is asking for an audit of Gov. Nikki Haley’s Department of Revenue (SCDOR) in the wake of the startling revelation that a simple $25,000 expense could have prevented a massive security breach at the agency.

Had Haley’s department required dual password protection of its data – which costs roughly $25,000 to implement (and which is required by the Internal Revenue Service) – it could have stopped an unprecedented security breach that Haley previously insisted the state was powerless to prevent.

Beginning in August of this year, Haley’s agency coughed up 3.8 Social Security numbers, 3.3 million bank account numbers, tax info for more than 650,000 businesses and nearly 400,000 credit and debit card numbers to hackers.  Accounts of South Carolina citizens are already being depleted as this data is sold on the black market.

Haley initially claimed that “there wasn’t anything where anyone in state government could have done anything” to stop the breach – adding that “you assume everything is okay.”  However she has since acknowledged that the state should have encrypted its data in accordance with industry standards and used tougher verification measures for individuals seeking to access the government’s network.

She’s also scapegoated her former director.

In addition to demanding the audit, Sheheen is proposing legislation that would provide a tax credit to South Carolinians who purchase identity theft protection.  In the wake of the breach, Haley negotiated a controversial no-bid contract with Experian to provide credit monitoring to South Carolinians, but no provision has been made to protect them against the theft of their identities.

Sheheen – who was narrowly defeated by Haley in 2010 – is widely expected to run against her again in 2014.  In fact at this point, it’s safe to say he would be favored to defeat her in a general election despite the historical Republican bent of the Palmetto State (which last elected a Democrat to the governor’s office in 1998).

SCDOR is the second agency in Haley’s cabinet to be subjected to an audit in as many days, coming on the heels of a request by several Republican lawmakers to audit the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS).

Obviously we will keep our readers posted on what these probes uncover …

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