CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Nearly a million South Carolinians have signed up for the state's free credit monitoring since the Department of Revenue's security breach. But now, those same people who signed up for protection could be vulnerable to a new attack.
Carri Grube Lybarker with the Department of Consumer Affairs is warning South Carolinians to be on guard. "Scam artists follow the headlines," Lybarker says. "Whenever the security breach took place and the Department of Revenue started offering the Experian credit monitoring services, they have latched on to that."
Letters alerting victims of the D.O.R. security breach are already circulating. But now, so are similar emails phishing for your information as scam artists hope to capitalize on your fear. Lybarker says these emails appear to come from legitimate businesses and could look real enough to fool someone who isn't on guard. These fake emails could be appear to come from Equifax or even your bank. Lybarker says the most recent example supposedly comes from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
The impacts of these "Credit Alert" phishing scams could vary. Lybarker says " It may be a general phishing email where they are trying to get your bank account information or social security information if you click on a link or call the telephone number included in the email. It may be for them to download Malware on your computer so they can follow you when you're logging in."
SCDCA has also released a few red flags to help identify these phishing emails.
- You should always verify the message by following up with the business directly.
- Don't click on any links in the email, especially if it doesn't actually show the link as these could lead to Malware.
- Check the sender's email address. If it has many letters and numbers it's probably not a legitimate email.
- Look for grammar issues within the email. Broken English is usually a giveaway that the email doesn't come from a reputable source.
The Department of Consumer Affairs averages about 1500-2000 calls a month, but the breach has increased that volume tremendously. Lybarker says the department is now seeing about 1200 calls every week. DCA even posted a copy of the letter being sent out by the Department of Revenue to help consumers recognize the "real" warning letter.
For a look at the letter and more ways to protect your identity, check out the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.