Hacking notices sent to deceased taxpayers

Hacking notices sent to deceased taxpayers
Published: Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:24 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2013 at 1:54 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Each day, the Department of Revenue mails out an additional 100,000 letters, informing South Carolinians that their personal information was compromised by hackers last fall.

One of those letters came to the household of Suzanne Piper.  It was addressed to Piper's mother who died in 2009.

"She's no longer here," Piper says.  "What kind of issues can we have?"

South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs Spokeswoman Juliana Harris says her office has fielded 2,000 calls since the hacking of the Department of Revenue.  She estimated about 30 percent of those calls are from relatives of the deceased.

"Deceased family members can be victims of identity theft, too," she says.  "If they just died, recently, especially, if their social security number is floating out there, someone can easily take out new lines of credit in their name, or maybe get a home loan in their name -- things of that nature."

Piper said she was not angered or confused by the notice, but Harris says that sometimes her callers are upset.

"Some people are like, 'this kind of brought up some old emotions'," she says.  "But a lot of people are just wondering what they should do -- if they need to do extra steps to protect that loved one's information, as well."

Anyone who electronically filed their taxes beginning in 1998 is at risk of having their information stolen.

Harris recommends that impacted families notify the credit bureaus of a family member's death.  Detailed information on the notification process can be found by visiting www.consumer.sc.gov or by calling 800-922-1594.

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