House Passes Legislation to Enhance Consumer Protection
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo joined his colleagues in the House to pass legislation providing added protections and resources for consumers in the event of a data security breach that impacts a credit agency or other business.
Under this legislation, credit freezes, lifts or removals must be provided to consumers without a charge. Credit agencies or businesses must provide one year of free credit monitoring after any breach.
“This legislation includes many powerful consumer protection tools that also modernize the way we do business,” DeLeo said. “I thank Chairman Chan for his exhaustive study into this complex problem and Chairwoman Benson for her ongoing commitment.”
The legislation updates the framework for the implementation of a freeze and related communication including:
- Modernizes the current law by allowing consumers to request credit freezes electronically or by telephone.
- Requires clear and accurate disclosure to consumers of basic information about credit freezes.
- In the event of a security breach, mandates credit agencies place a security freeze on a consumer report within one day of an electronic or telephone request, and within three days of receipt of a written request.
- Credit agencies must send confirmation of the security freeze within three days.
- Credit agencies must lift a security freeze within three days of a written request and 15 minutes of an electronic/ phone request.
- When a consumer requests a freeze, national credit reporting agencies must inform consumers of other reporting agencies that may have files on the consumer. They must also inform consumers of appropriate websites, toll-free numbers and mailing addresses that would permit the consumer to place additional freezes.
For the first time in Massachusetts, this legislation establishes specific guidelines for parents and guardians to freeze accounts of children under the age of 16 and incapacitated individuals.
The legislation also updates notification guidelines for breached entities and third-party affiliates.
- Breached entities must provide consumers with immediate notice and timely updates.
- Upon receiving notice of a breach, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation must post notice online within 24 hours.
Additionally, the attorney general must provide information online to consumers regarding the breach.
This bill also updates current law to require companies and organizations to obtain consent before running a credit report.
Winthrop Buses to Accept Charlie Cards Beginning In March 12
Starting March 12, all route 712 and 713 MBTA buses serving Winthrop will begin accepting Charlie Cards as a primary method of fare collection. The brand new buses, which were introduced in June 2017, brought significant improvements to bus service in Winthrop, but were not equipped to accept Charlie Card tap payments. Riders have had to use a paper Zone 1A pass, a paper monthly pass, to pay cash or pay twice to board Winthrop buses after making what would have otherwise been a free connection from the Blue Line at Orient Heights. The MBTA is providing new software just for Winthrop buses to make them Charlie Card compliant until the next fare technology, AFC 2.0 (Automated Fare Collection) is rolled out in 2020/2021.
This exciting announcement, made by Julia Wallerce of the Transportation Advisory Committee during the Town Council’s Feb. 6 meeting, was received with a full round of applause and many supportive comments from Councilors.
“This has been an issue since I was a young child, and it’s been a real barrier to riding the bus both for locals and for visitors”, said Councilor Peter Christopher. “This will make it so much easier for everyone to take transit, so thank you”.
Wallerce informed the Council that the MBTA would also be providing new signs for all of the bus stops in Winthrop, many of which are currently unmarked, and that she hopes they will be followed by amenities such as shelters, benches, and trash receptacles.
“We are grateful to the MBTA for taking Winthrop’s transit needs seriously, and to Sen. Boncore for his help in making this happen,” said Wallerce. “We look forward to continuing to improve access and service for the nearly 3,000 people who ride our buses each (week) day”