EDITORIAL: Lend some slack to those who may have been hacked
Feb 10, 2013 (Florence Morning News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
South Carolina's infamous bout with cyber hacking is fading into the distance, but there is suspicion -- quite well-founded we'd say -- that it might pop up again at any minute from some unexpected quarter, kind of like one of those horror movie heavies that just won't die.
That's the problem with identity theft. While the thief could turn around and buy a new TV or order some gourmet chocolate within minutes of swiping your credit card or credit card numbers, he or she could also obtain the information and ... wait. They could wait until they think you've forgotten about it. They could wait until they had a buyer who wanted a bunch of names and numbers. Or they could wait ... until the state's free monitoring service expired.
We do not pretend to know what's in the mind of a cyber thief -- heck, this all could just be a prank -- but we do know that it might be serious business and that's worrisome in a couple dozen ways. One of the most deplorable we have heard about it is a sort of reverse identity theft scheme in which scammers, posing as the representative of an "identity security" company, pitch a security plan to some unsuspecting citizen. Make all you records safe, they will say. And to do that, we'll need the numbers for all your accounts and cards. You know. So we can check them against stolen numbers or something.
We wish there was some sure fire fix to all this. The monitoring service the state is paying for is helpful and will stop the most obvious attempts at making use of stolen IDs. Other actions, like checking credit card transactions online regularly, asking for updates to credit reports and never ever giving out information to strangers, will all help. Most of this is fairly easy. But some of it is beyond the reach of the state's most vulnerable citizens. They may not have access to the Internet. They may not understand the process when they do.
We encourage the state to do more to bring more citizens under its somewhat protective net. Only about a quarter of the number hacked are, so far, signed up on the free plan (go to www.sc.gov for more -- if you can).
We might also encourage a sort of "good neighbor" policy here. If you know someone -- a neighbor, a church friend, a family member -- who might, for one reason or another, struggle with covering the basic security bases, consider giving them a hand.
The mess a hacker can make is frightful. But good people working together can limit the damage.
Unsigned editorials represent the views of this newspaper. Editorial board members are: Mark Blum (Regional Publisher), Tucker Mitchell (Regional Editor), Kimberly Ginfrida (Online Editor), John Sweeney (political writer), Rebecca Ducker (Visuals Editor), Matt Tate (News Editor) and David Johnson (Regional Circulation Director).
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