There may be more than 2,300 people in Hawaii affected by data breaches at Nationwide Insurance and Allied Insurance and the South Carolina Department of Revenue, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Office of Consumer Protection said Thursday.
The consumer protection office advises Hawaii residents to take precautions if they believe they have been affected by either of the two data breaches.
"These incidents affect a significant number of people, including Hawaii residents," said Bruce Kim, OCP executive director. "Hawaii residents who believe they may be at risk because of these incidents are urged to take immediate steps to protect their personal information. It is critical for those affected to use the contact information provided by the agencies involved and get current information on what they can do to protect themselves."
OCP recently received notification of two separate data breaches that affect a number of Hawaii residents.
Nationwide reported that computer hackers accessed personal information stored by the two companies in early October. This breach may have compromised records containing customers' Social Security numbers. Current estimates are that more than 1.1 million people may be affected nationally.
OCP believes that as many as 170 Hawaii residents may be affected by this breach. On Nov. 16, the company began sending out notices to affected people. Although Nationwide indicates that it is not aware of evidence of personal information being misused, the company is providing free credit report monitoring and identity theft protection services to affected people for one year.
Individuals who believe they may be affected or have questions may call the toll-free at (800) 760-1125.
The second incident involved the breach of tax returns and other data at the South Carolina Department of Revenue in September and went undetected until October. South Carolina determined that only state tax returns filed electronically by businesses or individuals since 1998 were impacted. It is believed that Social Security information of 3.8 million taxpayers, information belonging to 699,900 businesses, 3.3 million bank accounts and 5,000 credit cards were compromised in the attack.
The law firm representing South Carolina recently informed OCP that the personal information of about 2,136 Hawaii residents - who either filed their returns electronically or whose information was included on another entity's electronic tax filing - may have been compromised.
The U.S. Secret Service is directing an investigation into this incident.
South Carolina has taken steps to contain the breach and implement new technology and policy protections to prevent further exposure of taxpayers' personal information.
OCP is currently seeking confirmation from South Carolina that the notice required by state law was actually sent to affected Hawaii residents as well as verification of the number of Hawaii residents affected by the breach.
For those residents who believe they may have been affected by the South Carolina incident, South Carolina is providing a year of credit monitoring and fraud resolution services through Experian's ProtectMyID Alert Program. People should call (866) 578-5422 for more information or go to www.protectmyid.com/scdor.
Businesses are required by Hawaii law to notify customers of any security breach involving personal information in any form following discovery of the breach. Hawaii law also requires businesses to notify OCP about the breach without unreasonable delay as well as information on the timing, distribution and content of the notices sent by the business to affected persons.
The following tips were offered by OCP following a security breach:
* Contact creditors, including credit card companies, banks and other lenders, to determine whether there is any suspicious or unauthorized activity that has occurred.
* Place an initial fraud alert on credit reports. People are entitled to a free copy of their credit report annually.
* Contact any of the three consumer reporting companies to place a fraud alert on credit reports. A fraud alert does not block potential new credit but places a comment on the person's history. Creditors should contact the individual prior to opening a new account.
* Consider placing a credit freeze on credit reports. A credit freeze means that credit files cannot be shared with potential creditors or insurance companies.
All consumers may obtain a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies, regardless of whether they have been identity theft victims. Call (877) 322-8228 or request one on-line at www.annualcreditreport.com. Reports also may be requested directly from one of the reporting companies.
The credit reporting agencies are:
* Equifax, (800) 525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
* Experian, (888) 397-3742; www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013.
* TransUnion, (800) 680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790.