Press Release: Senate Passes Consumer Protection Legislation

Date: 
Fri, 04/27/2018

SENATE PASSES CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION

 

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted Thursday to pass several pieces of consumer protection legislation, including a bill to protect individuals who default on their educational loans from professional licensure penalties, and another to protect the personal information of consumers in the case of data breaches, like the one seen at Equifax, and provide free credit freezes for all consumers.

 

S.2266, An Act to prevent bureaucratic overreach in the collection of student debt, would repeal a state law passed in 1990, which created professional licensure consequences for educational loan defaulters. Under existing law, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) and the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation – a former loan guarantor that now operates as American Student Assistance, a national nonprofit – can request that a borrower’s state-issued professional or occupational certificate, registration, or license be suspended, revoked, or cancelled for default on educational loans made or administered by either entity.

 

“Student loans are a massive financial burden for the current young generation of students and graduates of higher education. This bill will ensure that a person who worked hard for their degree will be able to maintain their licensure or certification, despite defaulting on their loan, and allow them to continue to make a living and pay off their debt,” said Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville).

 

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

 

S.2455, An Act relative to consumer protection from security breaches, would help consumers protect their sensitive information before, during, and after a security breach in several ways: providing for free credit freezes for all consumers and creating an online “one stop shop” portal so that consumers can freeze & unfreeze their credit at all 3 main bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) in one place; providing 5 years of free credit monitoring for consumers whose information was part of a credit reporting agency data breach, and empowering consumers to know when and why their consumer reports are being pulled by requiring that any company attempting to pull a consumer’s report must first obtain consent.

 

“Now more than ever, Massachusetts needs to be a leader in protecting the financial security of our residents,” said Senator Jehlen. “In a world where technology progresses by the minute, fearing that our personal information may be subject to a data breach has unfortunately become a part of our everyday lives. This legislation will help consumers take proactive steps to protect themselves, and holds credit reporting agencies to a higher standard for keeping our information safe.”

 

The legislation would allow increased oversight from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, which recently filed a lawsuit against Equifax. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation would create a process requiring companies to certify that they maintain a consumer information security program as required by existing Massachusetts law.

 

Similar legislation has already passed in the House of Representatives.

 

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