January 23, 2018

NAFCU commends FCC focus on scam robocalls, presses for CU relief

NAFCU's Ann Kossachev, in a letter Tuesday, reiterated the association's support of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) efforts to target illegal robocalls and urged more clarity and flexibility so credit unions can contact their members without fear of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

"NAFCU stresses the importance of targeting the bad actors engaged in such activities while recognizing that small, community-based, cooperative financial institutions, like credit unions, play no part in such illegal communications," Kossachev, NAFCU's regulatory affairs counsel, wrote in a letter to the FCC. "Credit unions do not harass consumers; their communications are simply an attempt to inform their members about essential financial information on their existing accounts."

Kossachev was responding to the agency's request for further clarifications and comments regarding an earlier rulemaking to allow voice service providers to block certain calls originating from invalid or unassigned numbers, which would help target scam robocalls.

In the letter, Kossachev also reiterated NAFCU's support for the FCC's evaluation of the creation of a reassigned numbers database. She asked the commission to move forward with a rulemaking regarding this database as it would allow credit union to verify reassigned numbers and avoid liability under the TCPA.

In July 2015, the FCC released a declaratory ruling and order that provides limited 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.

The association sent five other letters to the FCC in 2017 asking for revisions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in order to protect financial institutions' ability to communicate with their members about sensitive financial information.

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 in October 2016 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; the court could issue a decision at any time.