COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WVOC) - South Carolina's next contract for state-paid consumer protection services is now officially in place for taxpayers affected by last fall's massive hacking of the state's tax-collection agency.

Budget and Control Board spokeswoman Rebecca Griggs says no one protested the state's intent to award the contract to Texas-based CSIdentity Corporation, so it took effect at 8 o'clock this morning.

Individual taxpayers and businesses can begin signing up October 24th for the “free” service, with tax dollars covering the $8.5-million cost of the credit monitoring contract.

That compares to $12-million paid to Experian for the current year of state-provided coverage.

Officials say the new contract with CSID will include more extensive monitoring designed to catch additional ways any stolen identities might be used.