Consumer protections jeopardized by FCC proposal on call blocking

May 23, 2019

CUNA continued its push for regulatory intervention on the Federal Communications Commission’s draft declaratory ruling on default call blocking, this time to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger. CUNA’s letter urges Kraninger to intervene with the FCC and ask the agency to delay and reconsider the ruling, particularly since the CFPB is a strong proponent of ensuring consumers are protected by being aware of important account information.

The order would allow voice service providers to default block robocalls, requiring consumers to opt in to receive such communications. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the order June 6.

CUNA has previously reached out to NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood this week with similar concerns.

 “Credit unions are concerned that—despite [FCC] Chairman [Ajit] Pai’s and the FCC’s well-meaning intentions— their proposed actions will run directly counter to the encouragement that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other financial regulators have given financial institutions to use modern communication methods to immediately provide members with important and time-sensitive account information,” the letter reads.

“CUNA believes that that FCC’s ruling will, unfortunately, further erode credit unions’ ability to relay information on and implement consumer protections regarding fraud, privacy, and account activity,” it adds. “As a result, the proposed declaratory ruling could not only potentially endanger consumers’ financial well-being, but also safe and sound credit union practices.”

Specifically, the ruling would:

  • Clarify that voice service providers may, as the default, block calls based on call analytics that target unwanted calls, as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking; and
  • Clarify that voice service providers may offer customers the option to block calls from any number that does not appear on a customer’s “white list” or contact list, on an opt-in basis.

CUNA is concerned that under the ruling, consumers would not even be aware what communications from their credit union have been blocked by their voice provider, which could lead to consumers incurring overdraft fees, fraud charges and other fees that could have been avoided with credit union-member communications.

CUNA has previously reached out to NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood this week raising similar issues.

In addition to advocating for the FCC to recognize the legitimate business need of credit unions to be able to reach members, CUNA has engaged lawmakers around legislation designed to combat robocalls. A Senate package, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151), passed the Senate Thursday. CUNA continues to work with leaders in the House and Senate to protect credit unions’ ability to reach members.