The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 9: Commerce and Trade

Chapter 62: PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION

Sub-Chapter 03: Social Security Number Protection Act

9 V.S.A. § 2440. Social Security number protection



§ 2440. Social Security number protection

(a) This section shall be known as the Social Security Number Protection Act.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a business may not do any of the following:

(1) intentionally communicate or otherwise make available to the general public an individual's Social Security number;

(2) intentionally print or imbed an individual's Social Security number on any card required for the individual to access products or services provided by the person or entity;

(3) require an individual to transmit his or her Social Security number over the Internet unless the connection is secure or the Social Security number is encrypted;

(4) require an individual to use his or her Social Security number to access an Internet website, unless a password or unique personal identification number or other authentication device is also required to access the internet website;

(5) print an individual's Social Security number on any materials that are mailed to the individual, unless State or federal law requires the Social Security number to be on the document to be mailed;

(6) sell, lease, lend, trade, rent, or otherwise intentionally disclose an individual's Social Security number to a third party without written consent to the disclosure from the individual, when the party making the disclosure knows or in the exercise of reasonable diligence would have reason to believe that the third party lacks a legitimate purpose for obtaining the individual's Social Security number.

(c) Subsection (b) of this section shall not apply:

(1) When a Social Security number is included in an application or in documents related to an enrollment process, or to establish, amend, or terminate an account, contract, or policy; or to confirm the accuracy of the Social Security number for the purpose of obtaining a credit report pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1681(b)(2). A Social Security number that is permitted to be mailed under this section may not be printed, in whole or in part, on a postcard or other mailer not requiring an envelope, or visible on an envelope without the envelope having been opened.

(2) To the collection, use, or release of a Social Security number reasonably necessary for administrative purposes or internal verification.

(3) To the opening of an account or the provision of or payment for a product or service authorized by an individual.

(4) To the collection, use, or release of a Social Security number to investigate or prevent fraud; conduct background checks; conduct social or scientific research; collect a debt; obtain a credit report from or furnish data to a consumer reporting agency pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.; undertake a permissible purpose enumerated under Gramm Leach Bliley, 12 C.F.R. § 216.13-15; or locate an individual who is missing, is a lost relative, or is due a benefit, such as a pension, insurance, or unclaimed property benefit.

(5) To a business acting pursuant to a court order, warrant, subpoena, or when otherwise required by law, or in response to a facially valid discovery request pursuant to rules applicable to a court or administrative body that has jurisdiction over the disclosing entity.

(6) To a business providing the Social Security number to a federal, State, or local government entity, including a law enforcement agency, the department of Public Safety, and a court, or their agents or assigns.

(7) To a Social Security number that has been redacted.

(8)(A) To a business that has used, prior to January 1, 2007, an individual's Social Security number in a manner inconsistent with subsection (b) of this section, which may continue using that individual's Social Security number in that manner on or after January 1, 2007, if all of the following conditions are met:

(i) The use of the Social Security number is continuous. If the use is stopped for any reason, subsection (b) of this section shall apply.

(ii) The individual is provided an annual disclosure that informs the individual that he or she has the right to stop the use of his or her Social Security number in a manner prohibited by subsection (b) of this section.

(iii) A written request by an individual to stop the use of his or her Social Security number in a manner prohibited by subsection (b) of this section is implemented within 30 days of the receipt of the request. There shall not be a fee or charge for implementing the request.

(iv) The person or entity does not deny services to an individual because the individual makes a written request pursuant to this subsection.

(B) Nothing in this subdivision (8) is intended to apply to the collection, use, or dissemination of Social Security numbers collected prior to January 1, 2007 and exempted from the provisions of subsection (b) of this section pursuant to subdivisions (1) through (7) or (9) and (10) of this subsection.

(9) To information obtained from a recorded document in the official records of the town clerk or municipality.

(10) To information obtained from a document filed in the official records of the courts.

(d) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, the State and any State agency, political subdivision of the State, an agent or employee of the State, a State agency, or a political subdivision of the State, may not do any of the following:

(1) Collect a Social Security number from an individual unless authorized or required by law, State or federal regulation, or grant agreement to do so or unless the collection of the Social Security number or records containing the Social Security number is related to the performance of that agency's duties and responsibilities as prescribed by law.

(2) Fail, when collecting a Social Security number from an individual in a hard copy format, to segregate that number on a separate page from the rest of the record, or as otherwise appropriate, in order that the Social Security number can be more easily redacted pursuant to a valid public records request.

(3) Fail, when collecting a Social Security number from an individual, to provide, at the time of or prior to the actual collection of the Social Security number by that agency, that individual, upon request, with a statement of the purpose or purposes for which the Social Security number is being collected and used.

(4) Use the Social Security number for any purpose other than the purpose set forth in the statement required under subdivision (3) of this subsection.

(5) Intentionally communicate or otherwise make available to the general public a person's Social Security number.

(6) Intentionally print or imbed an individual's Social Security number on any card required for the individual to access government services.

(7) Require an individual to transmit the individual's Social Security number over the Internet, unless the connection is secure or the Social Security number is encrypted.

(8) Require an individual to use the individual's Social Security number to access an Internet website, unless a password or unique personal identification number or other authentication device is also required to access the Internet website.

(9) Print an individual's Social Security number on any materials that are mailed to the individual, unless a State or federal law, regulation, or grant agreement requires that the Social Security number be on the document to be mailed. A Social Security number that is permitted to be mailed under this subdivision may not be printed, in whole or in part, on a postcard or other mailer not requiring an envelope, or visible on an envelope, without the envelope having been opened.

(e) Subsection (d) of this section does not apply to:

(1) Social Security numbers disclosed to another governmental entity or its agents, employees, contractors, grantees, or grantors of a governmental entity if disclosure is necessary for the receiving entity to perform its duties and responsibilities. The receiving governmental entity and its agents, employees, and contractors shall maintain the confidential and exempt status of such numbers. As used in this subsection, "necessary" means reasonably needed to promote the efficient, accurate, or economical conduct of an entity's duties and responsibilities.

(2) Social Security numbers disclosed pursuant to a court order, warrant, or subpoena, or in response to a facially valid discovery request pursuant to rules applicable to a court or administrative body that has jurisdiction over the disclosing entity.

(3) Social Security numbers disclosed for public health purposes pursuant to and in compliance with requirements of the Department of Health under Title 18.

(4) The collection, use, or release of a Social Security number reasonably necessary for administrative purposes or internal verification. Internal verification includes the sharing of information for internal verification between and among governmental entities and their agents, employees, contractors, grantees, and grantors.

(5) Social Security numbers that have been redacted.

(6)(A) A State agency or State political subdivision that has used, prior to January 1, 2007, an individual's Social Security number in a manner inconsistent with subsection (d) of this section, which may continue using that individual's Social Security number in that manner on or after January 1, 2007, if all of the following conditions are met:

(i) The use of the Social Security number is continuous. If the use is stopped for any reason, subsection (d) of this section shall apply.

(ii) The individual is provided an annual disclosure that informs the individual that he or she has the right to stop the use of his or her Social Security number in a manner prohibited by subsection (d) of this section.

(iii) A written request by an individual to stop the use of his or her Social Security number in a manner prohibited by subsection (d) of this section is implemented within 30 days of the receipt of the request. There shall not be a fee or charge for implementing the request.

(iv) The State agency or State political subdivision does not deny services to an individual because the individual makes a written request pursuant to this subdivision.

(B) Nothing in this subdivision (e)(6) is intended to apply to the collection, use, or dissemination of Social Security numbers collected prior to January 1, 2007 and exempted from the provisions of subsection (d) of this section pursuant to subdivisions (1) through (5) or (7) through (11) of this subsection.

(7) Certified copies of vital records issued by the Department of Health and other authorized officials pursuant to 18 V.S.A. part 6.

(8) A recorded document in the official records of the town clerk or municipality.

(9) A document filed in the official records of the courts.

(10) The collection, use, or dissemination of Social Security numbers by law enforcement agencies and the Department of Public Safety in the execution of their duties and responsibilities.

(11) The collection, use, or release of a Social Security number to investigate or prevent fraud; conduct background checks; conduct social or scientific research; collect a debt; obtain a credit report from or furnish data to a consumer reporting agency pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.; undertake a permissible purpose enumerated under Gramm Leach Bliley, 12 C.F.R. § 216.13-15; or locate an individual who is missing, is a lost relative, or is due a benefit, such as a pension, insurance, or unclaimed property benefit.

(f) Any person has the right to request that a town clerk or clerk of court remove from an image or copy of an official record placed on a town's or court's Internet website available to the general public or an Internet website available to the general public to display public records by the town clerk or clerk of court, the person's Social Security number, employer taxpayer identification number, driver's license number, State identification number, passport number, checking account number, savings account number, credit card or debit card number, or personal identification number (PIN) code or passwords contained in that official record. A town clerk or clerk of court is authorized to redact the personal information identified in a request submitted under this section. The request must be made in writing, legibly signed by the requester, and delivered by mail, facsimile, or electronic transmission, or delivered in person to the town clerk or clerk of court. The request must specify the personal information to be redacted, information that identifies the document that contains the personal information and unique information that identifies the location within the document that contains the Social Security number, employer taxpayer identification number, driver's license number, State identification number, passport number, checking account number, savings account number, credit card number, or debit card number, or personal identification number (PIN) code or passwords to be redacted. The request for redaction shall be considered a public record with access restricted to the town clerk, the clerk of court, their staff, or upon order of the court. The town clerk or clerk of court shall have no duty to inquire beyond the written request to verify the identity of a person requesting redaction and shall have no duty to remove redaction for any reason upon subsequent request by an individual or by order of the court, if impossible to do so. No fee will be charged for the redaction pursuant to such request. Any person who requests a redaction without proper authority to do so shall be guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 for each violation.

(g) Enforcement.

(1) With respect to businesses, the State, State agencies, political subdivisions of the State, and agents or employees of the State, a State agency, or a political subdivision of the State, subject to this subchapter, other than a person or entity licensed or registered with the Department of Financial Regulation under Title 8 or this title, the Attorney General and State's Attorney shall have sole and full authority to investigate potential violations of this subchapter, to enforce, prosecute, obtain, and impose remedies for a violation of this subchapter, or any rules made pursuant to this subchapter, and to adopt rules under this subchapter, as the Attorney General and State's Attorney have under chapter 63 of this title. The Attorney General may refer the matter to the State's Attorney in an appropriate case. The Superior Courts shall have jurisdiction over any enforcement matter brought by the Attorney General or a State's Attorney under this subsection.

(2) With respect to a person or entity licensed or registered with the Department of Financial Regulation under Title 8 or this title, the Department shall have full authority to investigate potential violations of this subchapter, and to prosecute, obtain, and impose remedies for a violation of this subchapter or any rules adopted pursuant to this subchapter as the Department has under Title 8 or this title, or any other applicable law or regulation.

(3) With respect to the information provided by the Vermont Department of Public Safety and law enforcement agencies, and any agent or employee thereof, to the Vermont Attorney General or State's Attorney pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, the information provided or made available by the agency or Department to the Attorney General may be designated by the agency or Department as confidential, and shall not be released under the provisions of 1 V.S.A. § 317. (Added 2005, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2011, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 2, 2012.)