Monday, November 4, 2013
Local elections are currently dominating the political scene, but during October and November our state government is busy preparing for the legislative session.
Most significantly, the state recently announced that registration has begun for the newly hired identity and fraud protection company, CSID. As everyone remembers, last year the Department of Revenue was hacked, and South Carolina taxpayer information was apparently stolen. The governor entered into a contract with Experian that expired after one year.
Heeding the advice of identity protection experts, the General Assembly appropriated additional funding in the current budget. CSID was awarded the new contract which will provide increased services at a lower cost; however, taxpayers will be required to re-register with the new company.
Experts in identity theft and fraud protection tell us that most illegal activity occurs after the first 12 months in which information is stolen. The next few years are critical for monitoring and protecting one’s assets. (As an aside, I firmly believe the legislature will appropriate funds to continue these monitoring services in next year’s budget.)
Following are a few of the services provided by registering with CSID:
• Credit Monitoring: Monitoring for credit inquiries, delinquencies, judgments and liens, bankruptcies, new and more.
Child Monitoring: Monitoring all known addresses and aliases associated with your child’s SSN and provides alerts if your child’s personal information is being bought or sold online.
• CyberAgent: Monitoring websites, chat rooms, and bulletin boards 24/7 to identify trading or selling of your personal information.
• Court Records: Monitoring whether your name, date of birth or SSN appear in court records for an offense that you did not commit.
• Non-Credit Loans: Monitoring whether your personal information becomes linked to short-term, high-interest payday loans.
• Change of Address: Monitoring to see if someone has redirected your mail.
• Sex Offender Report: Monitoring sex offenders residing in your zip code to ensure that your identity is not being used fraudulently in the sex offender registry.
Social Security Number Trace: Monitoring whether your SSN becomes associated with another individual’s name or address.
• Identity Theft Insurance: Obtaining insurance against expenses in the event that your identity is compromised with a $1,000,000 insurance policy.
• Identity Restoration: Offering a certified identity theft restoration specialist to restore your ID. This service is available for eligible SC taxpayers even if you do not enroll in CSID’s identity protection plan.
• Enterprise Threat Intelligence: Monitoring business domain names and IP addresses to alert business to incidents of compromised credentials and malware.
Please take a few moments to register you and your family for this free service.
There are two ways to enroll in CSID’s identity protection services:
Option One: Enroll online. Go to www.scidprotection.com.
Option Two: Call CSID directly at 855-880-2743 toll free to enroll.
Additional information can be found by visiting www.scidprotection.com or www.sctax.org
Also, the process of writing the yearly state budget has now begun. The chairmen of the budget subcommittees are meeting with staff to receive revenue projections and discuss macro issues that will affect the annual appropriations bill. I am scheduled to meet with the other chairmen next week and will have better understanding of the fiscal obstacles that we face; but clearly the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, ongoing infrastructure needs and increased education funding (k-12 and higher ed) will be front and center.
While I am honored to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, and to serve as chairman of a significant portion of the budget, dealing with the special interest groups and lobbyists remains the most tedious part of my job. Virtually every lobbyist attempts to schedule meetings or “courtesy calls” prior to our public hearings in order to “explain” their clients’ position and priorities. (I have actually had lobbyists flip-flop on who they represent, and their respective positions on an issue, from one year to the next.)
I think the best way to handle these folk is to remain skeptical of requests and to always, always, ask oneself how said issue will affect our friends and neighbors. Because of my approach, most special interest lobbyists don’t particularly like meeting with me ... and I am proud of that fact.
This week I will be meeting with representatives of three different institutions of higher education, the Department of Insurance, the state ports authority, Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the retirement investment commission and with Ways and Means staff. I am confident that there will be plenty to report in my next column.
And finally, I received notice that page appointments are currently being accepted for the statehouse. If readers have a child who attends college in Columbia they are eligible to serve as a page. It’s a pretty good way to make a few bucks while also learning about state government. If you are interested contact me at the delegation office at 740-5855.
That about covers it for this column. Thank you for the opportunity to represent you and have a great week.
Rep. Jim Merrill is the former majority leader of the S.C. House of Representatives and represents District 99 which is comprised of Hanahan, Daniel Island, Cainhoy, Goose Creek and Mount Pleasant.