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Governor Baker Signs Two Important Consumer Protection Bills
An Act Relative to Consumer Protection from Security Breaches, HB 4806, will enable consumers to safeguard their personal financial information by allowing them to “freeze” and “thaw” their credit files for free -- preventing thieves from opening new credit accounts in their names, adding into to state statute a provision recently passed by Congress. The law also requires that credit bureaus and other companies give consumers free credit monitoring services after a data breach, and improves consumer notifications among other protections.
Last month Marriott announced a security breach that put more than 500 million customers at risk of identity theft, and months before that Equifax, one of the three largest credit bureaus in the country, announced an especially dangerous breach.
“This is good news and offers consumers 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. “While a good first step, we still have some more work to do to hold companies accountable for failing to properly safeguard our personal information.”
The bill was sponsored by Representative Jennifer Benson (Lunenburg) and Senator Barbara L’Italien (Andover) and House Chair of Consumer Protection, Representative Tacky Chan (Quincy).
The Equitable Coverage in Disability Insurance, HB 482 requires that all disability insurance policies sold in Massachusetts be gender-neutral in all terms and conditions, including premiums and benefits. If signed the new law will end the current practice of charging women more than men for the same disability insurance policies, bringing private disability policies in line with most other insurance products in the state.
Today, companies selling health insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners’ insurance, workers compensation, annuity policies and even disability policies purchased through employers are prohibited from using gender in rate setting or underwriting criterion. “This is a change that is long overdue, said Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s legislative director.”
This bill was sponsored by Representative Ruth Balser (Newton) and Senator Jason Lewis (Winchester)
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