BOSTON – The Governor today signed into law Representative Jennifer Benson’s (D-Lunenburg) consumer protection legislation providing added security and resources for consumers in the event of a data breach.
Under this legislation, credit freezes must be provided 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 in 2017, 42 months of free credit monitoring will be provided.
“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 support to help them recover more quickly if their data is hacked or leaked.”
The bill was first enacted by the Legislature in July of last year. The Governor returned the bill with a recommended technical change, which was implemented in a new version the Legislature sent back to the Governor on New Year’s Eve.
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.