Governor Baker Signs Bill to Enhance Credit Data Security
“Signing this bill into law will better protect Massachusetts consumers from the consequences of data breaches and give individuals more control over their data and how it is used,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am thankful to the Legislature for working with our administration to pass a version of this bill that assists consumers while allowing state agencies to perform their statutory responsibilities and comply with state and federal law.”
“This legislation includes important provisions to support and provide additional resources to consumers that are affected by data breaches,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are grateful for the Legislature’s collaboration to strengthen the Commonwealth’s consumer protection laws.”
The legislation requires consumer consent before any third party can obtain the consumer’s credit report from a credit reporting agency for most non-credit purposes. The bill also requires that credit reporting agencies allow a consumer to place a “security freeze” on the consumer’s credit report at no cost and prohibits credit rating agencies from charging a consumer to lift or remove a credit freeze.
The bill enhances reporting requirements for holders of consumer data that have experienced a security breach and requires these holders to offer free credit monitoring to affected consumers in certain circumstances.
This bill includes language proposed by Governor Baker that ensures that state agencies charged with ensuring payment of child support obligations and protecting the credit history of children under state care may continue fulfill their statutory responsibilities. The bill also maintains access to credit reporting for state agencies and courts that are required by law to review consumer credit information.
“In a fast-moving digital environment where personal data is at risk of being breached every day, it is critical that we tighten up privacy protections for consumers,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “I’m proud of the work the Legislature did to this bill signed into law this past session.”
“Thanks to the work of Rep. Benson, Rep. Chan, and members of the House, Massachusetts residents now have the tools to monitor and safeguard their credit, while companies are now required to be transparent in reporting data breeches to their customers,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “This law protects consumers and takes companies to task, putting Massachusetts consumers first.”
“As our world grows increasingly dependent on online industries and systems, protecting the personal information of consumers remains critical while also holding companies responsible for the vast amounts of information they collect,” said Representative Tackey Chan. “I am proud that Massachusetts residents will now have better tools to safeguard their information and will be more informed when breaches do occur. With so many stakeholders involved over the past several months, I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate and the Governor for their thoughtful consideration and commitment to producing a strong piece of legislation for our constituents across the Commonwealth.”
“On behalf of the more than 800,000 members in the Commonwealth, we thank Governor Baker for signing into law House Bill No. 4806 - An Act Relative to Consumer Protection from Security Breaches. Older adults are the most common targets of identity theft nationwide. This legislation includes a suite of important consumer protections, and gives consumers control of their credit reports by allowing them to freeze and unfreeze their credit without paying fees to credit reporting agencies. This is an important step in ensuring that Massachusetts consumers are protected from identity theft,” said Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts State Director.
“This new law is good news for Massachusetts residents as it provides consumers with new tools to protect themselves from identity theft after a security breach like the recently announced ones at Equifax and Marriott,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for MASSPIRG. “Identity theft is a significant problem - last year thieves stole almost $17 billion dollars from American consumers.”