Removing Barriers Blog

House Energy, Commerce Subcommittee to Hold TCPA Hearing Tomorrow
Posted September 21, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

Tomorrow, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). This is the subcommittee's second such hearing this year, which in addition to a previous Senate hearing, clearly illustrates the saliency of this issue. We are sending a letter in support of this hearing, just as we did for the previous House hearing in July.  

Over the past year, we have raised a number of concerns with the FCC about its TCPA ruling, most notably that it could impact credit unions’ ability to contact members with important account information. We also led the efforts on a group trade association letter requesting this hearing last year. 

The FCC issued its ruling in July 2015, and it has already impeded communications between credit unions and consumers about important account information.  The Order immediately went into effect after being approved on a party-line vote at an FCC meeting, and without being published as a proposed rule with a notice and comment period. As soon as it was released, credit unions were thrown into a state of disarray about how to instantaneously comply with an over 100-page document filled with onerous language and unclear nuances.  

Our other specific concerns include: 

  • The existing exemption for financial institutions provides only minimal relief; 
  • The expansive and problematic definition of what is considered an autodialer;
  • Some ambiguity about how consumers can revoke consent for autodialed calls; an 
  • The increasing possibility of TCPA liability/lawsuits when a credit union calls a re-assigned number that it previously been given consent to call. 

Additionally, the real-world effects of this Order also appear to run counter to the objectives of the CFPB, which has urged financial institutions to increase, not decrease, their communications with customers and members. 

The TCPA is also the subject of a lawsuit  filed last year, and we filed an amicus brief in December 2015 stating that the ruling should be vacated. It is our firm belief that Congress, in writing the original TCPA, did not intend to arbitrarily scrutinize and limit communications between credit unions, which are not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperatives, and their members.  

This latest hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22, starting at 11 a.m. (ET), and will be streamed live. The witness list, along with submitted written testimonies, can be found here.