BOSTON — State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield) announces that the Massachusetts Senate voted 38-0 on Thursday to pass a bill designed to protect the personal information of consumers in the case of data breaches, like the one seen at Equifax, and provide free credit freezes for all consumers. *
S.2455, An Act relative to consumer protection from security breaches, was sponsored by State Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), Senate chair of the Consumer Protection Committee, and crafted in collaboration with Representative Jennifer Benson (the House sponsor of the bill), Attorney General Maura Healey, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG), and AARP Massachusetts.
The bill was crafted with the aim of helping all consumers protect their sensitive information before, during, and after a security breach in several ways:
· Providing free credit freezes for all consumers and creating an online “one stop shop” portal so that consumers can freeze and unfreeze their credit at the 3 main bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) in one place;
· Providing 5 years of free credit monitoring for consumers whose information was part of a credit reporting agency data breach; and
· Empowering consumers to know when and why their consumer reports are being pulled by requiring that any company attempting to pull a consumer’s report must first obtain consent.
The legislation authorizes increased oversight from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, which recently filed a lawsuit against Equifax. Further, the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation will create a process requiring companies to certify that they maintain a consumer information security program as required by existing Massachusetts law.
S. 2455 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration; the House has previously passed similar legislation sponsored by Representative Benson.
* This article was created, in whole or in part, using submitted officially released information.