Beginning October 1, 2015, companies that experience a data breach affecting a Connecticut resident must offer that individual free identity-theft prevention services and, if applicable, identity theft mitigation services for at least one year. The breach must include the resident’s name and Social Security number (SSN).
The new law, Public Act No. 15-142, signed by Governor Dannel Malloy on June 11, amends the state’s current breach notification mandate to require covered businesses to offer one year of free identity-theft protection service to each Connecticut resident affected by a data breach of certain personal information, including the resident’s name and SSN.
The new law also requires that if such services have to be provided, the notification to the affected resident(s) must inform the recipient(s):
- how to enroll in the services, and
- how to place a credit freeze on their credit file.
The law also tightens the timeframe for providing all breach notifications (not just those involving free theft protection services). Breach notifications must continue to be made without unreasonable delay; effective October 1, 2015, however, such notifications may not be made later than 90 days after the discovery of the breach, unless a shorter time is required under federal law.
The new mandate has significant implications for companies that have breaches involving SSNs affecting individuals in states such as Connecticut. Companies might feel compelled to offer identity theft protection services to all affected individuals, not just Connecticut residents. Of course, many businesses already provide similar services, but not in all cases.
In addition, businesses should consider evaluating possible providers of identity theft protection services ahead of time to be ready to move quickly in the event of a breach that triggers the new mandate. Some have read the California breach notification law to have a mandate similar to Connecticut’s, requiring one year of free identity theft protection services (the California law is not as clear as the Connecticut law).
Businesses also should determine the scope of services that needs to be offered. A cottage industry of credit monitoring, identity theft protection and remediation services has emerged, some companies offering more extensive and thorough services than others, at varying costs. While the Connecticut law contains no minimum requirements for identity theft prevention or mitigation services, companies should consider the different service providers and levels of service in the marketplace to ensure their needs will be met.
During the legislative process, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen acknowledged that the law would set only “a floor for the duration of the protection” and his office may continue to “seek broader kinds of protection.” In particular, in cases where a data breach involves more sensitive personal information, the AG stated he would continue this practice of seeking two years of identity theft prevention or mitigation services, even though the statute requires only one year.