BOSTON (9/24/08)--Massachusetts state regulators released new rules Tuesday to make businesses better safeguard consumers’ personal information. The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation issued the regulations, which require companies that handle personal information--such as Social Security numbers and credit card accounts--to encrypt stored data, monitor employees’ access to the data, and take other measures to safeguard customer information. They become effective Jan. 1 (Boston.com Sept. 23). Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick also signed an executive order that requires state agencies to take similar precautionary measures. Consumer concern about the increasing number of data breaches containing personal information prompted the state’s action, Daniel Crane, Massachusetts undersecretary of consumer affairs and business regulation, told the paper. Hundreds of credit unions nationwide had to reissue thousands of plastic cards to members as a result of the TJX Cos. data breach, which exposed the personal information on at least 45.67 million cards. TJX operates TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores. Other data breaches this year include supermarket company Hannaford Bros., mortgage company Countrywide Financial Corp., and Bank of New York Mellon.