Mass. Governor Baker Starts Off Year Signing New Laws - Security Breaches and Financial Literacy Addressed

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed onto law two legislative measures important to credit unions and their members.

Financial Literacy in Schools

Chapter 438 of the Acts of 2018 

Over 20 legislative proposals were filed last session to address financial education in schools. Moving ahead, Massachusetts students may now learn about debt, taxes, savings and other components of personal finance incorporated into curriculum.

Specifically, new financial literacy standards established will promote an understanding of personal finances including, but not limited to: (i) loans; (ii) interest and interest accrual; (iii) credit card debt; (iv) online commerce; (v) rights and responsibilities of renting or buying a home; (vi) saving, investing and planning for retirement; (vii) the role of banking and financial services; (viii) balancing a checkbook; (ix) state and federal taxes; (x) charitable giving; (xi) evaluating media content, including online content, that relates to personal finance matters; and (xii) saving, investing and planning for higher education or professional training.


Security Breaches

Chapter 444 of the Acts of 2018

Both chambers passed their own versions of the measure and a conference committee was formed to resolve differences. Due to overwhelming support in the House and the Senate, the report was accepted unanimously, and the bill was sent to Governor Charlie Baker for signature at the conclusion of formal sessions. In August, Governor Baker returned the bill to the Committee with a recommendation to include amendments. Since then, the amended consumer data protection bill bounced back-and-forth between the House and Senate. Further amendments were adopted.

Overall, the bill addresses consent, consumer notices, security freezes, free credit monitoring and more. Under the new law, free credit monitoring for consumers after a breach must be provided. Credit reporting agencies must provide at least three and a half years of free monitoring to affected people if a security breach includes the theft of Social Security numbers. All other entities must provide at least one and a half years of free credit monitoring. Consumers have further state rights as they may place a security freeze on their credit report at no charge. Third parties must also gain consumers’ written consent before obtaining credit reports for non-credit purposes.

The Association successfully sought changes to ensure that credit unions were not burdened by additional consent requirements imposed on preexisting member lending relationships. The law also prohibits clauses seeking to prevent consumers from suing or joining a class action suit in credit monitoring offers.