FCC call-blocking rule includes relief for legitimate callers

June 6, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday voted to approve its default call-blocking order, which includes a CUNA-supported mechanism for challenging erroneous call blocking. CUNA is concerned the order will lead to credit unions being unable to reach members with important information with members unaware the calls have been blocked.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Wednesday that the proposal had been modified in response to feedback to include a “safety valve” to allow legitimate callers to file complaints with voice carriers over erroneously blocked calls, which CUNA called for in its comment letter.

“Today’s ruling would not have been possible without the 360-degree advocacy of the CUNA/League system,” said Ryan Donovan, CUNA chief advocacy officer. “Over the last few months, CUNA, Leagues and credit unions worked directly with the FCC, Congress, the CFPB and NCUA to ensure that any approach to stem robocalls protects credit unions’ ability to contact members and protect their financial health and security. This is how we approach every issue, and it has proven successful time and time again.”

During Thursday’s meeting, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly raised concerns similar to CUNA’s, saying the order could result in unintended consequences and said legitimate businesses utilize programs that could fall under the definition of “robocalls” to contact consumers with important information.

The FCC unveiled the proposal several weeks ago, with a shorter-than-usual comment deadline and another week before the FCC voted. This led CUNA to launch an action alert to call for comments by the May 30 comment deadline.

More than 1,000 credit union advocates contacted the FCC with letters describing concerns and urging changes to the proposal so that credit unions can continue to communicate and provide members with critical information. 

CUNA’s concerns were also covered in Fox Business, the Wall Street Journal and The Hill in the lead up to Thursday’s vote.