BOSTON – The House and Senate today passed Representative Jennifer Benson’s (D-Lunenburg) legislation providing added protections and resources for consumers in the event of a data security breach.
Under this legislation, credit freezes must be provided to consumers free of charge. In the event of a data breach, consumers will be provided with 18 months of free credit monitoring. If the data breach occurs at a credit rating agency, such as the breach at Equifax reported last year, 42 months of free credit monitoring will be provided.
“As an advocate for consumer protection, I filed legislation to make it easier for victims of identity theft to freeze their credit reports,” said Representative Benson. “In the wake of the Equifax breach last year, I worked with the Attorney General and advocates to strengthen the bill with further protections. Consumers in Massachusetts will now be empowered to take control of their credit data, and they’ll have more tools at their disposal to help them recover more quickly from data breaches.”
“This bill gives Massachusetts residents more control over who can access their credit information and enhances our office’s ability to respond to Equifax-style data breaches in the future,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “I applaud the Legislature for passing this critical bill, and urge the Governor to sign it into law.”
The legislation also updates the framework for the implementation of a credit freeze and gives consumers more control over their data by:
- Requiring financial institutions to get the consent of a consumer before accessing or using a consumer’s credit report;
- Requiring clear and accurate disclosure to consumers of basic information about credit freezes, and the new services available to them under this law;
- Mandating that when a consumer requests a freeze, national credit reporting agencies must inform consumers of other reporting agencies that may have files on the consumer. They must also inform consumers of appropriate websites, toll-free numbers and mailing addresses that would permit the consumer to place additional freezes.