As I learned today, the powers that be at the South Carolina Department of Revenue did not believe they needed all the security features to protect the information included with the tax returns sent when tax payers electronically filed their returns. As a result, the information of 3 million people and over 200,000 businesses was stolen by a data thief in Eastern Europe.
What's even worse than being exposed to identity theft by an Eastern European identity theft ring? Having the state that did not care enough to protect your data "compensate" you for the risk it put you in by signing you up for a year's worth of credit monitoring from Experian. Why is that so bad (other than the fact that credit monitoring does not help protect consumers much, if any)? Because Experian requires anyone using their monitoring service to agree to binding arbitration. So for the 3 million South Carolinians and 200,000 plus South Carolina businesses to receive the offered "protection" from the risk of identity theft caused by South Carolina's negligence, the consumers and businesses have to give up their right to a jury trial against Experian, which basically means they lose again if their identity is actually stolen.
South Carolina, you should be ashamed of yourself for doing this to your own people. My advice to those affected in South Carolina. Don't use the monitoring service. Instead, use annualcreditreport.com and stagger your annual three free credit reports (one from each of the big three credit bureaus) to one every four months and thereby monitor your credit for free without giving up any of your rights. Oh, and if your identity is stolen, hire the Kittell Law Firm to sue the credit bureaus and creditors who refuse to remove the fraud accounts that will show up on your credit reports.