March 17, 2020

NAFCU brings CUs' call blocking concerns to FCC

autodialerOver the past week, NAFCU has joined conversations with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff from each of the commissioner's office and other industry trades to discuss the implementation of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act and STIR/SHAKEN protocols. NAFCU has repeatedly shared concerns about credit unions' legitimate calls being erroneously blocked.

The FCC is expected to vote at its next open meeting on a proposal requiring voice service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN – a caller identification framework meant to target illegal robocalls – by June 30, 2021. The FCC issued a declaratory ruling to allow call blocking in June 2019 and encouraged providers to adopt STIR/SHAKEN.

While some positive changes were made before final passage of the 2019 ruling, NAFCU recommended that the commission direct service providers not to block unsigned calls until the STIR/ SHAKEN framework has been fully implemented. NAFCU also requested the commission require service providers to provide notice to credit unions when their calls are blocked and simple, accessible mechanisms for redress when their legitimate calls are erroneously blocked.

Earlier this month, NAFCU attended a meeting at the FCC to discuss effects from the FCC's 2019 ruling. The association asked the FCC to continue to gather feedback from the industry and to work with service providers to provide transparent mechanisms that ensure credit unions are able to correct mislabeled or wrongly blocked calls. The recent meetings with FCC staff further addressed these concerns.

In addition to the FCC's ruling, the TRACED Act was signed into law late last year. The legislation expands the FCC's enforcement authority over violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Under the proposed rule the FCC is set to vote on later this month, the implementation deadline is consistent with the TRACED Act, which directed the FCC to require voice service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN within 18 months from when the law was enacted.

It also includes a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPR) that recommends providing rural and small providers with a one-year extension to implement the framework, which is also a TRACED Act provision. The FNPR also seeks public feedback on how to implement other provisions of the TRACED Act, including related to caller ID authentication.

NAFCU has actively worked with the FCC on efforts to modernize the TCPA for more than three years, and will continue its advocacy to ensure credit unions can contact their members regarding important, time-sensitive information, without fear of frivolous litigation.

On a related note, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey last week granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of Bank of America in a lawsuit brought by a TCPA investigator. The court determined that because the plaintiff welcomed the call in his capacity as a TCPA investigator, the plaintiff couldn't establish injury or standing to bring the case. If the decision stands, could help eliminate frivolous lawsuits brought by predatory plaintiffs' attorneys.