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Massachusetts

Massachusetts State Victim Resources:

Attorney General
Phone: (617) 727-2200
www.ago.state.ma.us

Agencies that offer assistance to IDT victims:

Massachusetts Justice Project, Inc.
Program Phone: (413) 533-2660   
Legal Assistance: (800) 639-1209   
http://www.masslegalhelp.org/

South Coastal Counties Legal Services
Program Phone: (508) 979-7160   
Legal Assistance: (800) 244-9023   
http://www.sccls.org/

Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association
Program Phone: (617) 423-0648   
Legal Assistance: (617) 423-0648   
http://www.vlpnet.org/

Security Freeze Law:

All Massachusetts consumers are allowed to place security freezes on their consumer credit reports to prevent new accounts from being opened in their names. Such a freeze enables the consumer to prevent anyone from looking at his/her credit file for the purpose of granting credit unless the consumer chooses to allow a particular business look at the information. To request a freeze, a consumer must request one in writing by mail.

Consumer reporting agencies may charge a fee of $5 to place or temporarily lift a security freeze. However, victims of identity theft or his/her spouse with a valid police report relating to the identity theft may not be charged. The reporting agency must place the freeze within three business days after receiving the request, and within five business days, must send a written confirmation of the freeze and provide the consumer with a unique personal identification number or password to be used by the consumer when providing authorization for the release of his credit for a specific party or period of time. Requests for a temporary unlocking of the freeze must be completed within three business days.
Statute: 93 § 62A

Mandatory Police Report Law for Identity Theft Victims:

Law enforcement officers are required to accept a police incident report from an identity theft victim, and provide a copy of the report to the victim upon request within 24 hours. The incident report may be filed in any county where a victim resides; or in any county where the owner or license holder of personal information stores or maintains the personal information; the owner or license holder’s principal place of business or any county in which the breach of security occurred.
Statute: 266 § 37E

Identity Theft Passport Law:

No State law at this time.

Identity Theft Laws:

A person is guilty of identity fraud if he, with intent to defraud, poses as another person without the express authorization of that person and uses such person’s personal identifying information to obtain or to attempt to obtain money, credit, goods, services, anything of value, any identification card or other evidence of such person’s identity, or to harass another.

Violations are punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 2 ½ years. A law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant any person he has probable cause to believe has committed the offense of identity fraud as defined in this section. “Personal identifying information” means any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to assume the identity of an individual, including any name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, Social Security number, place of employment, employee identification number, mother’s maiden name, demand deposit account number, savings account number, credit card number or computer password identification.
Statute: 266 § 37E.  

Other Related Laws:

Restitution:

A person found guilty of identity fraud will be ordered to make restitution for financial loss sustained by a victim as a result of the violation. Financial loss may include any costs incurred by the victim in correcting his/her credit history or any costs incurred in connection with any civil or administrative proceeding to satisfy any debt or other obligation, including lost wages and attorney’s fees.
Statute: 266 § 37E.  

Protection of Personal Information:

This regulation establishes minimum standards to be met in connection with the safeguarding of personal information contained in both paper and electronic records. Every person that owns, licenses, stores or maintains personal information about a resident of the Commonwealth is required to develop, implement, maintain and monitor a comprehensive, written information security program applicable to any records containing such personal information. This security program must be reasonably consistent with industry standards, and must contain administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure the security and confidentiality of such records. The regulations require each information security program to include:

  • Designating one or more employees to maintain the comprehensive information security program;
  • Identifying and assessing reasonably foreseeable internal and external risks to the security, confidentiality, and/or integrity of any electronic, paper or other records containing personal information, and evaluating and improving, where necessary, the effectiveness of the current safeguards for limiting such risks.
  • Developing security policies for employees that take into account whether and how employees should be allowed to keep, access and transport records containing personal information outside of business premises.
  • Imposing disciplinary measures for violations of the comprehensive information security program rules.
  • Preventing terminated employees from accessing records containing personal information by immediately terminating their physical and electronic access to such records, including deactivating their passwords and user names.
  • Taking reasonable steps to verify that third-party service providers with access to personal information have the capacity to protect such personal information.
  • Limiting the amount of personal information collected to that reasonably necessary to accomplish the legitimate purpose for which it is collected; limiting the time such information is retained to that reasonably necessary to accomplish such purpose; and limiting access to those persons who are reasonably required to know such information in order to accomplish such purpose or to comply with state or federal record retention requirements.
  • Reasonable restrictions upon physical access to records containing personal information;
  • Regular monitoring to ensure that the comprehensive information security program is operating in a manner reasonably calculated to prevent unauthorized access to or unauthorized use of personal information; and upgrading information safeguards as necessary to limit risks.
  • Documenting responsive actions taken in connection with any incident involving a breach of security, and mandatory post-incident review of events and actions taken, if any, to make changes in business practices relating to protection of personal information.

The regulations also require the establishment and maintenance of a security system covering computers with, at a minimum:

  • Secure user authentication protocols;
  • Secure access control measures;
  • Where technically feasible, encryption of all transmitted records and files containing personal information that will travel across public networks or be transmitted wirelessly;
  • Reasonable monitoring of systems, for unauthorized use of or access to personal information;
  • Encryption of all personal information stored on laptops or other portable devices;
  • For files containing personal information on a system that is connected to the Internet, there must be reasonably up-to-date firewall protection and operating system security patches, reasonably designed to maintain the integrity of the personal information.
  • Reasonably up-to-date versions of system security agent software which must include malware protection and reasonably up-to-date patches and virus definitions
  • Education and training of employees on the proper use of the computer security system and the importance of personal information security.

Regulation: 201 CMR 17.00.

Security Breach:

State law requires state and local government agencies and individuals and businesses doing business in the state to notify residents when their personal information was or is reasonably believed to have been compromised during a security breach, putting them at risk of identity theft. A security breach is defined as the “unauthorized acquisition or unauthorized use of unencrypted data, or encrypted electronic data and the confidential process or key that is capable of compromising the security, confidentiality, or integrity or personal information, maintained by a person or agency that creates a substantial risk of identity theft or fraud against a resident of the Commonwealth.”

Notice must be provided as soon as practicable and without unreasonable delay when a person or agency that owns or licenses personal information knows or has reason to know of a breach of security, or when the person or agency knows or has reason to know that the personal information of a resident was acquired or used by an unauthorized person or used for an unauthorized purpose. Notice must also be made to the Attorney General, the Director of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, and the consumer reporting agencies. The notice provided to residents must include, but is not limited to, the consumer’s right to obtain a police report, how a consumer requests a security freeze and the necessary information to be provided when requesting the security freeze, and any fees required to be paid to any of the consumer reporting agencies.

Personal information is defined as a resident’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements that relate to the resident: Social Security number; driver’s license number or state-issued identification card number; or a financial account number, or credit or debit card number, with or without any required security code, access code, personal identification number (PIN), or password that would permit access to a resident’s financial account. It does not include publicly available information that is lawfully made available to the general public from federal, state, or local government records. Notification can be provided by mail or e-mail. If the cost of providing regular notice would exceed $250,000, the amount of people to be notified exceeds 500,000, or the person or agency does not have sufficient contact information to provide written or electronic notice, substitute notice may be provided. When substitute notice is used, it must consist of all of the following, as applicable: e-mail notice, clear and conspicuous posting on the home page of the person or agency if they maintain a web site, and publication in or broadcast through media that provides notice throughout the state.
Statute: 93H § 1-6: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/gl-93h-toc.htm

Payment Cards:

A person is guilty of misuse of a credit card if he:

  • Makes or causes to be made, either directly or indirectly, any false statement as to a material fact in writing, knowing it to be false, and with intent that it be relied on, respecting his identity or that of any other person for the purpose of procuring the issuance of a credit card.
  • Takes a credit card from the person, possession, custody or control of another without the cardholder’s consent, or who, with knowledge that it has been so taken, receives the credit card with intent to use it, sell it, or transfer it to a person other than the issuer or cardholder.
  • Receives a credit card that he knows to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the identity or address of the cardholder, and who retains possession with intent to use it or to sell it or to transfer it to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder.
  • Being a person other than the issuer or his authorized agent, sells a credit card, or buys a credit card from a person other than the issuer or his authorized agent.
  • Uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services or anything else of value, a credit card obtained or retained fraudulently, or a credit card which he knows is forged, expired or revoked, where the value of money, goods or services obtained is less than $250.

Violations are punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or up to one year in jail.
Statute: 266 § 37B: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/266-37b.htm

If the value of the goods, money, services, or anything else of value is over $250, a person is guilty of fraudulent use of a credit card, punishable by up 2 ½ to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2000.
Statute: 266 § 37C: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/266-37c.htm

Disposal of Records:

State law restricts how businesses can dispose of paper records with confidential information about individuals. The law will prohibit businesses from knowingly discarding paper records or documents with personal information without first redacting the data or shredding or otherwise destroying the documents. Electronic media must be destroyed or erased so that the personal information cannot practicably be read or reconstructed. It will apply to data that includes a person’s name and Social Security, driver’s license and financial account or credit or debit card numbers.
Statute: 93I § 1-3: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/gl-93i-toc.htm

 

Information gathered from sources including Identity Theft Resource Center and Identity Crime in partnership with International Association of Chiefs of Police and Bank of America.