M A S S A C H U S E T T S H O U S E OF R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FEBRUARY 15, 2018
Office of Representative Tackey Chan
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE BILL TO PROVIDE CONSUMER PROTECTIONS AGAINST DATA BREACHES
BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted unanimously this week to advance House Bill 4232, An Act removing fees for security freezes and disclosures of consumer credit reports. The bill, originally H134 sponsored by Chairwoman Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg), removes all fees for consumers who elect to place, lift, or remove a credit freeze from a consumer reporting agency and updates current laws to address modern technological processes. The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure spent the months since the Equifax data breach went public in September 2017 looking closely at the complex topic of data security and consumer protections before bringing it to the House floor on Wednesday.
“I am proud to see the House of Representatives vote to protect Massachusetts residents from data breaches and modernize our current laws,” said State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. “Following numerous high profile breaches over the last year, this legislation is urgently needed to ensure that consumers have more control over their credit protections. This is an issue that impacts every individual, organization and business in the Commonwealth, and I am grateful for the valuable input from so many stakeholders, committee members, and colleagues throughout this process to ensure that we produced the best possible policy for our residents.”
With the input of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the three consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), leading business advocacy associations, , and security experts, the committee expanded the bill to include a comprehensive update to the existing Chapters 93 and 93H of Massachusetts General Laws.
In addition to providing free credit freezes, H4232 updates laws to reflect the addition of electronic and verbal communication procedures for consumer’s interactions with consumer reporting agencies. It requires consent from consumers for access to a consumer credit report, as well as faster action on the part of consumer reporting agencies when a consumer elects to place, lift, or remove a security freeze. If a request is made electronically or by phone, action must be taken within 15 minutes of receiving a request, and if by mail, within 3 days of receipt. The bill also includes protections for minors and incapacitated persons, for whom parents or guardians will be able to place a credit freeze in order to protect them from identity theft.
Massachusetts will become the fifth U.S. state to allow free credit freezes for all residents, regardless of whether a data breach has transpired.