The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should immediately grant the petition CUNA and others submitted last month calling for some form of ruling, clarification or waiver that calls and texts from financial institutions to consumers related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic should fall under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) Emergency Purposes Exception. The FCC confirmed March 20 that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an emergency under the TCPA.
“Rather than treat the Petition with the urgency that the unprecedented nature of the current crises demands, the Commission has instead opted to relegate the Petition to a relatively drawn out (considering the circumstances) 45-day comment cycle that does not conclude until May 21, almost six weeks from the filing of the Petition,” the letter reads. “The Commission’s treatment of the Petition stands in stark contrast to the action it took on its own motion to provide immediate relief from potential TCPA liability to health care providers and governmental agencies for calls or texts related to COVID-19.”
The letter goes on to say it is “unconscionable to require credit unions and other financial institutions to undertake a litigation risk assessment or simply hope for the best that they are not sued before sending out calls and texts providing vital information regarding loan relief or other measures at a time when unemployment rates have quickly reached levels not seen since the Great Depression.”
The petition has been supported by organizations including the National Consumer Law Center and others that have traditionally opposed relaxation of TCPA requirements.