NAFCU Regulatory Affairs Counsel Ann Kossachev in a letter Monday urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify language in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in order to ease the compliance burden many credit unions face when trying to contact their members.
The letter was sent in support of CUNA's Petition for Declaratory Ruling, which requested the FCC grant an established business relationship exemption from the TCPA's "prior express consent" requirement for informational calls or text messages made by credit unions to wireless numbers.
"Credit unions have never been and will never be the type of institution the TCPA was intended to target," Kossachev wrote. "Credit unions also have limited resources, which makes it especially difficult to navigate the nuances of the TCPA and its implementing regulations. Thus, credit unions have been forced to limit their communications with members for fear of violating the TCPA."
Kossachev noted that the FCC's regulations regarding calls for time-sensitive financial information, while made in an attempt to provide some relief to the TCPA, "lack sufficient clarity to provide credit unions with assurance that their calls will satisfy the necessary conditions." She urged that the FCC acknowledge the growing use of wireless numbers and the relationship credit unions have with their members – including the necessity for timely, accurate communications – and relieve the regulatory burden credit unions face under the TCPA.
Additionally, in light of recent data breaches, Kossachev asked "that the FCC expand its exigent circumstances exemption for data breaches to allow credit unions unlimited communications with their members immediately after a breach." Kossachev requested the FCC to grant credit unions more flexibility in attempting to reach their members with vital information about their accounts and how to protect their personal financial information because such calls are "undoubtedly in the best interest of the consumer."
In July 2015, the FCC released a declaratory ruling and order that provides limited robocall exemptions under the TCPA for financial institutions making free autodialed calls to consumers. NAFCU has repeatedly told the FCC that the order has led to financial institutions ceasing important communications with members about their accounts over fear of inadvertently violating the rule.
In September 2015, NAFCU entered a suit challenging the FCC’s order on TCPA prohibitions on autodialed calls to account holders. Oral arguments were heard in the case last October in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; the court could issue a decision at any time.
NAFCU has sent four other letters to the FCC in 2017 asking for revisions to the TCPA in order to protect financial institutions' ability to communicate with their members about sensitive financial information.