CUNA and other organizations filed reply comments to their petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) relief for calls made from financial institutions to consumers related to the pandemic. CUNA and the organizations filed the original petition March 30, calling for COVID-19 related communications to fall under the TCPA’s Emergency Purposes Exception.
The organizations followed up in April to call on the FCC to immediately grant the petition, as delaying is putting credit unions and other financial institutions at risk as they focus on serving members and communities through the pandemic.
“Financial institutions’ calls and text messages to offer payment deferrals and other loan modifications and to warn consumers of potential fraud on the consumer’s account protect and support consumers’ financial health and safety,” Thursday’s letter reads. “Thus, these calls and texts clearly fall within the Emergency Purposes Exception. The Commission’s regulations, promulgated after notice-and-comment rulemaking, define the term ‘emergency purposes’ to mean ‘calls made necessary in any situation affecting the health and safety of consumers.’”
The reply comments note “broad support for the petition and the need for the Commission to act immediately.” This support includes FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as many consumer advocacy and business organizations.
The reply comments also highlight a credit union that is “unable to send texts or place calls to its members regarding payment solutions because of the extensive and time-consuming due diligence required to mitigate potential litigation exposure under the TCPA…The net result is less communication from the credit union to its members, who themselves have expressed frustration that the credit union is using antiquated communications technologies. It is imperative that financial institutions are able to call consumers to address the consumer’s financial needs during the pandemic.”