NAFCU has actively engaged with the FCC in order to share the credit union perspective on Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)-related issues:
- In April 2021, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that restricted the TCPA’s definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” to include only systems that use a random or sequential number generator to store or produce telephone numbers. NAFCU filed an amicus brief in this case that argued in favor of a narrow definition and has repeatedly urged the FCC to adopt a narrow definition.
- In July 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the TCPA’s government-backed debt exception violated the Constitution but was severable from the remainder of the law.
- On May 28, 2020, NAFCU sent a letter to the FCC urging them to be completely transparent on call labelling to calling parties and to provide effective and timely redress mechanisms for inaccurately labeled calls.
- In March 2020, NAFCU joined the American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers Association, and others in requesting that phone calls and text messages related to the COVID-19 pandemic placed by financial institutions using automated telephone dialing systems (“autodialers”) be considered “call[s] made for emergency purposes.”
- In its March 2020 comment letter to the FCC, NAFCU voiced its support for the creation of a reassigned numbers database to aid in the elimination of illegal robocalls, but cautioned against increasing the cost of compliance for credit unions.
- In March 2020, NAFCU took part in multiple conversations with FCC staff and other industry trade associations to discuss the implementation of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) and STIR/SHAKEN protocols.
- In February 2020, NAFCU joined more than 12 other trade groups requesting that the FCC clarify the definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” under the TCPA.
- In January 2020, NAFCU sent a letter to FCC Commissioner O’Reilly illustrating the challenges that credit unions face when implementing procedures to contact members without violating TCPA.
- In January 2020, the Supreme Court announced that it will review the constitutionality of the TCPA’s government-backed debt collection exception. Under the exemption, calls intended to collect a debt owed to, or guaranteed by, the U.S. are exempt from the TCPA
- In November 2019, senior NAFCU staff met with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to discuss ongoing efforts to eliminate illegal robocalls and to implement the new caller identification framework called SHAKEN/STIR.
- In February 2019, senior NAFCU staff attended meetings with staff members from the offices FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Brendan Carr, and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly to seek clarity on a number of issues, including the definition of an autodialer.
- In May 2018, NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger and other NAFCU staff met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to discuss the current approach to TCPA rulemaking in light of the D.C. Circuit’s decision in ACA International v. FCC.
- In spring 2018, NAFCU, along with other trade groups, attended meetings with staff members from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's staff as well as Commissioner Michael O'Rielly's staff to discuss possible steps after the D.C. Circuit’s decision.
In June 2019, the FCC approved a declaratory ruling that will allow voice service providers to automatically block suspected robocalls unless a consumer opts out. NAFCU met with FCC Chairman Pai's staff in May 2019 to share concerns that credit unions' calls to members could be erroneously blocked if the ruling was implemented without changes, and joined with nine other trades to voice these concerns in an associated letter. In consideration of these issues, the FCC added language that allows legitimate callers to file complaints with the providers for mistakenly blocked calls. In addition to reiterating its concerns in meetings and phone calls with FCC staff, NAFCU provided the FCC with a comment letter in January 2020 echoing its concerns with the implementation and effectiveness of call blocking measures currently in place.
In addition, in June 2019, the FCC approved publication of a proposal to require phone companies to incorporate a caller identification framework called SHAKEN/STIR. NAFCU joined with several other trade groups to offer support for the SHAKEN/STIR framework and provide additional recommendations to ensure that wanted calls are not blocked. On April 2, 2020, the FCC issued a Report and Order that mandated that voice service providers (VSP) implement STIR/SHAKEN by June 30, 2021. The recently passed TRACED Act directed the FCC to require VSPs implement STIR/SHAKEN within 18 months of the law’s enactment. Included in the Report and Order was a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPR) that recommends rural and small providers be provided with an additional year to implement STIR/SHAKEN and seeks public feedback on how to implement other provisions of the TRACED Act.
On the legislative side, NAFCU has continued to engage with lawmakers as they contemplate legislative fixes to combat illegal robocalls to ensure that credit union concerns are taken into account. In April 2019, NAFCU offered support for S. 151, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, legislation to enhance the FCC’s enforcement authority over violations of the TCPA and require voice service providers to authenticate and block illegal robocalls. In December 2019, the Senate passed the revised TRACED Act in a 97-1 vote. The House passed the TRACED Act in a 417-3 vote on December 4 and President Trump signed the TRACED Act into law shortly thereafter.
Automated dialing systems are also subject to state-level legislation. NAFCU analyzed a recent change to the Florida Telemarketing Act that requires commercial callers to obtain consumers’ consent before contacting them with an autodialer. The law, which took effect on July 1, 2021, does not include a specific definition for “autodialer,” but it may encompass a broader range of systems than the definition established in the Supreme Court’s decision in Facebook v. Duguid. NAFCU will continue to follow state-level changes to laws governing the use of automatic telephone dialing systems.