HOUSE ANNOUNCES DATA SECURITY HEARINGS AND LEGISLATIVE ACTION
Contact: Katherine Levasseur
In mid-September, Legislators learned that Equifax, a national credit reporting agency, reported a massive breach of sensitive consumer information in their system. Even though the breach occurred in June, it was only reported to the State and to Vermonters in September. This breach included the birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, and some driver’s license and credit card information of up to 240,000 Vermonters.
“Personal information theft is a serious crime that has long-term, far-reaching consequences” said House Speaker, Mitzi Johnson. “It is a number one priority of the House to ensure that Vermonters’ personal information is secure and that they are protected from identity theft. While the legislature is out-of-session until January, Representatives have already begun work on legislation that will address Vermonters concerns. We expect several bills to be introduced for immediate consideration in January. As we embark on the process, we want to be sure that Vermonters are at the table and that your thoughts, concerns, and ideas are heard. That is why I’ve authorized four public hearings in the next two weeks around the state - in Springfield, Barton, Manchester, and Burlington - for our Commerce Committee to hear from you.”
"We've heard from countless Vermonters and the message is clear: they want control over their personal information” added Attorney General, TJ Donovan. “We are committed to protecting Vermont consumers and they deserve that control."
“The Equifax breach was the latest in a pattern - weak security, consumers put at risk, company ducks accountability. Adding insult to injury, Equifax even tried to profit from it. Consumers’ interests must come first. I know both the Senate and the House are ready to act” said Senate President Tim Ashe.
"It’s not just the insulting ten dollars a consumer has to pay these agencies to freeze their accounts due to Equifax's conduct,” explained Senator Michael Sirotkin. “It’s all the time and angst many thousands of Vermonters have expended in the hopes of protecting their personal financial information.”
“Clearly more needs to be done,” said Representative Bill Botzow. “When breaches occur the burden should fall on the responsible party. Consumers’ private information must be respected and protected. Criminal behavior must stop. An individual’s prospects can be severely impacted for life by identity theft. I hope you will attend a hearing, inform yourself on how best to protect your information and offer your thoughts on how Vermont can best address ever increasing cyber threats.”
The public hearings will be held around the state on November 9th and 14th. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Thursday, November 9th
12:30 p.m. Springfield Town Offices
96 Main Street
5:30 p.m. Barton Village Office
17 Village Square
Tuesday, November 14th
12:30 p.m. Manchester Community Library
138 Cemetery Avenue
Manchester Center, VT
6:00 p.m. Department of Health
Conference Room 2B
108 Cherry Street
The Attorney General’s office provided the following website, updated regularly with consumer information: consumer.vermont.gov. Additionally, Vermonters can access their credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. Reviewing your credit report regularly can help you spot suspicious activity. It is also possible to “freeze” your credit report, placing restrictions on who can access your report. The four major credit agencies are also listed below. Anyone wishing to “freeze” their credit report will need to contact each agency.
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