Hacker gains access to 3.6 million SC tax returns

BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Chief Mark Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division answer questions at a news conference in Columbia S.C. on Friday, Oct. 26th. Officials announced that 3.6 million state tax returns going back to 1998 had been exposed in an international cyber attack. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — State and federal officials say an international hacker broke into the South Carolina Department of Revenue computer files and gained access to about 3.6 million tax returns.

Gov. Nikki Haley said the hacked files included state returns submitted since 1998 with unencrypted Social Security numbers. There also were about 387,000 credit and debit card numbers of which 16,000 were unencrypted.

Officials said people whose information has been compromised will get a free year of identity protection service provided by Experian and paid for by the state.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said state officials learned of the problem on Oct. 10 from the U.S. Secret Service. He said the hacker may have gotten into the files as early as late August.