Removing Barriers Blog

CUNA Seeks Relief for Credit Unions Impacted by FCC TCPA Order
Posted August 04, 2015 by CUNA Advocacy

On July 10 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order (“Order”) concerning the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that immediately went into effect. CUNA sent a letter to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) this week expressing concerns about how this Order will impact the ability of credit unions to communicate with their members.  

The TCPA is under the jurisdiction of the FCC and governs communications when using an autodialer to contact consumers on their cell phones. Some credit unions use certain calling devices to assist in the dialing process when contacting their members for a variety of reasons including assisting in limiting human error when dialing, and to more efficiently reach consumers about their account information.  

While CUNA supports the concept of preserving consumers’ rights to privacy on their cell phones and protecting financial information, the FCC’s Order goes far beyond the scope or purpose of the TCPA – which incidentally was enacted in 1991 before cell phones and mobile devices were commonly used. The Order disregards consumers’ preferences to use new technologies and modern forms of communication, and makes it more difficult for credit unions to communicate with their members about fraud, data breaches, and other pertinent account updates.  

In the Order, the FCC recognized the importance of receiving information from financial institutions – and provided an exemption which CUNA supported and had previously filed a comment in support of. However, the exemption contains conditions that are nearly unfeasible. For example, the condition that calls made to consumers be free of charge is not only difficult but in some instances impossible. The conditions also place an arbitrary limit on the number of times a consumer can be contacted in addition to several other requirements.  

There are also several other problematic issues with the Order a few of which include:

o   An expanded scope of what is considered an autodialer;

o   Ambiguity about how consumers can revoke consent to receive calls; and

o   Strict and unfair guidelines for calling reassigned numbers.

While the NCUA does not have jurisdiction over the TCPA, CUNA’s letter urges their consumer protection office to advocate on behalf of credit unions to the FCC. Credit unions could be subject not only to substantial compliance burdens as a result of the Order, but frivolous class-action litigation surrounding the TCPA. Moreover, we believe credit union members will not be able to receive important communications that they want and need such as fraud alerts or other pertinent account information.  

CUNA plans to continue to seek relief for credit unions impacted by this issue and will work with Congress and other industries who are also impacted by this Order. CUNA’s Compliance Department will also be hosting a webinar about the FCC’s Order and its potential impact on credit unions.