CUNA seeking TCPA gov't debt comments by June 1

May 13, 2016

CUNA is seeking comments from stakeholders on a proposal regarding exemptions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for collections on debt owed to the federal government. Comments are due to CUNA by June 1, and to the Federal Communications Commission (the agency that put out the proposal) by June 6.

The Budget Act of 2015 amended the TCPA to create exemptions for calls made to cell phones when collecting a debt owed to or guaranteed by, the federal government. The act required that if calls are made solely for the purpose of collection of such a debt, the caller is no longer required to have the prior express consent of the recipient.

However, the FCC’s rule takes a narrow approach to the reading of this law, requiring several conditions for such calls.

The scope of this proposal is specific to the amendments made to the TCPA by the Budget Act.

Most notably for credit unions, the FCC is seeking comment on the meaning of “owed to or guaranteed by the United States.” If interpreted broadly enough, it could include federal student loans, Small Business Administration loans and federally guaranteed mortgages.

The FCC issued an omnibus declaratory ruling about the TCPA in July 2015, which immediately went into effect. CUNA believes this order goes far beyond the scope and purpose of the TCPA, and is concerned the ruling could affect the way credit unions communicate important information to their members.

CUNA has filed an amici brief in support of litigation challenging the TCPA ruling, has written to Congress and raised concerns with the FCC and NCUA.

Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced it will conduct a May 18 hearing on the TCPA.