April 29, 2020

CFPB backs NAFCU call for expedited FCC ruling

KraningerCFPB Director Kathy Kraninger Monday sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai urging the FCC to expedite its declaratory ruling to allow financial institutions to contact consumers on matters related to the coronavirus pandemic during the national emergency.

In Kraninger's letter, she noted the CFPB's efforts to keep credit unions informed of relief options available to them, both due to government action and those made available by financial institutions.

"Despite our best efforts, we know we have not reached all consumers who need and would benefit from available assistance," Kraninger wrote. "Allowing financial institutions to make automated calls is one more way to maximize the outreach to ensure consumers receive important and timely information."

NAFCU joined with several other financial services trade associations in March to petition the FCC for an expedited declaratory ruling, clarification or waiver to except informational calls related to the coronavirus pandemic from the consent requirements under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Kraninger's letter was in response to that petition.

NAFCU Senior Regulatory Counsel Elizabeth LaBerge followed up on the petition with a letter to the FCC earlier this month, stressing that "[t]his is an extant emergency, and information from credit unions and other financial institutions are a first step to resolving that threat to the economic security of our nation and its consumers."

"As consumers lose their jobs or get furloughed, they have an immediate need to speak with their mortgage lender to secure their housing," wrote LaBerge. "These calls provide consumers with critical information about how they can safely access their assistance from their credit union during the pandemic."

The comment period for the FCC's public notice regarding information calls does not close until May 21.

NAFCU has repeatedly shared concerns about credit unions' legitimate calls being erroneously blocked and has actively worked with the FCC on efforts to modernize the TCPA for several years.

Additionally, in February the association joined with more than a dozen other trade groups and stakeholders to ask the FCC to clarify the definition of autodialer under the TCPA. The coalition previously petitioned the FCC for clarification following an appeals court's decision that invalidated the FCC's autodialer definition.