Andover Sen. Barbara L’Italien, along with her House counterpart and Attorney General Maura Healey, introduced new legislation Monday designed to protect victims of Equifax’s recent data breach.
The bill, “An Act Removing Fees for Security Freezes and Disclosures of Consumer Credit Reports,” aims to help consumers by eliminating fees and establishing a one-stop shop for placing credit freezes, mandating encryption of personal information in credit reports and requiring that companies obtain consent before accessing or using consumer credit reports and credit scores.
“I am proud to stand today in collaboration with the attorney general and Rep. Jen Benson to discuss enhanced consumer protections for all residents of our Commonwealth,” said L’Italien in a statement. “With the Equifax breach, we learned how easy it is for our personal information to be compromised, and the urgency of ensuring additional protection for consumers and our credit and financial information,” she added.
The online intrusion into Equifax’s systems revealed Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses of up to 143 million Americans.
Healey last week brought the nation’s first suit against Equifax for its failure to protect the personal information of nearly three million Massachusetts residents. Healey’s office assisted in drafting the bill.
“For too long, protecting consumers has been an afterthought for Equifax and other credit reporting agencies,” said Healey. “This bill will give Massachusetts residents control over their personal data and help fix a system that needed reform long before the Equifax breach. I am proud to join with Sen. L’Italien and Rep. Benson as Massachusetts leads the charge for our country’s consumers.”
The bill requires companies using personal credit scores to receive consumers’ written consents, allow consumers to place and lift a freeze on their files for free, provide extra access to free credit reports to consumers impacted by a breach, five years of free credit monitoring after a data breach and encryption of personal information.