May 04, 2018

NAFCU, others petition FCC for autodialer clarifications

NAFCU, along with more than a dozen other trade associations, petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday to clarify the Telephone Consumer Protection Act's (TCPA) definition of automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS).

The petition comes as a result of the March decision in the ACA International v. FCC lawsuit in which the court invalidated the FCC's definition of "autodialer" and rejected the commission's interpretation of when a caller violates the TCPA by calling a reassigned number. The lawsuit stemmed from a declaratory ruling and order the FCC issued in July 2015 providing limited exemptions under the TCPA for financial institutions making free autodialed calls to consumers.

In the petition, the groups request that the FCC issue a declaratory ruling to:

  • confirm that to be an ATDS, equipment must use a random or sequential number generator to store or produce numbers and dial those numbers without human intervention; and

  • find that only calls made using actual ATDS capabilities are subject to the TCPA's restrictions.

NAFCU has engaged on this issue since the FCC issued the declaratory ruling, entering into ACA's suit in September 2015. The association has consistently sought clarification related to the law as credit unions have ceased important communications with members about their accounts over fear of inadvertently violating the rule.

NAFCU joined with other financial services trade groups last month to highlight some of the unintended consequences of the TCPA's vague language as the Senate Commerce Committee and House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection held hearings on combating illegal robocalls.