CUNA to FCC: Blocking Automatic Calls Threatens Credit Unions’ Ability to Contact Members
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2019
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon vote on a draft declaratory ruling that would give phone service providers the authority to block legal automatic calls. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) represents nearly 5,500 federal and state credit unions whose members need communication on a host of fronts. Messages are routinely provided to credit union members that contain critical alerts on governance, financial education, and legally-required informational calls.
CUNA voiced significant concerns with the FCC’s order on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the requirements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and that it increases harm to callers with an established business relationship and those that have a consensual agreement from the consumer for telephone contact.
“In its current state, the Commission’s proposed blocking-by-default framework will inevitably lead to the blocking and mislabeling of multiple legally permissible automated calls—depriving credit union members of important, desired, and, sometimes, legally required communications from their financial institution,” CUNA Senior Director of Advocacy and Counsel Mitria Wilson wrote. “The draft Declaratory Ruling proposes no mechanism for either consumers or legitimate callers to learn that calls have been blocked and fails to establish any process for callers to quickly and efficiently unblock legitimate calls.”
CUNA argues that the term “robocall” has become overly broad and, under the TCPA, the definition of prohibited automated calls excludes both calls made to a landline from a caller with an existing business relationship for informational purposes and calls made to a cell phone with prior consent.
While efforts to minimize scam, fraud and unwanted telemarketing calls is important, CUNA believes that the current effort to use opt-out call-blocking to eliminate all “unwanted” automated calls, without regard to their legality or illegality, is overly broad and inconsistent with the TCPA.
CUNA drafted recommended language to include in the declaratory ruling that would require voice providers to implement a challenge mechanism before they begin offering blocking tools on an opt-out basis.
Another concern is that call blocking conflicts with the legal obligations imposed on financial institutions by other federal agencies. For example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) early intervention rule requires mortgage loan servicers to make live contact with a delinquent borrower within 36 days of a delinquency and periodically thereafter if the loan remains delinquent.
CUNA respectfully urges the FCC to seek comment from stakeholders before adopting a blocking-by-default rule or, alternatively, require voice providers to have a method in place to unblock blocked calls before offering blocking on an opt-out basis.
Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is the only national association that advocates on behalf of all of America’s credit unions, which are owned by 115 million consumer members. CUNA, along with its network of affiliated state credit union leagues, delivers unwavering advocacy, continuous professional growth and operational confidence to protect the best interests of all credit unions. For more information about CUNA, visit cuna.org. To find your nearest credit union, visit YourMoneyFurther.com.