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Nussle: TCPA Continues to Disrupt CU-Member Communications
Thursday, July 14, 2016 6:45 AM

The Federal Communications Commission’s July 2015 ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) continues to disrupt credit unions’ ability to communicate with their members, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Jim Nussle told members of Congress Tuesday.

Nussle wrote to leadership of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology, which conducted an FCC oversight hearing Tuesday.

“Surely when passing the TCPA decades ago, Congress did not intend to arbitrarily scrutinize and limit communications between credit unions, which are not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperatives, and their members,” Nussle wrote. “This order has not only restricted important communications, but has attracted the attention of law firms seeking to profit from frivolous class action litigation and the exorbitant attorneys’ fees and statutory damages associated with TCPA lawsuits.”

Since the order has been released, it has had a chilling effect on communications between credit unions and consumers about important account information.

CUNA’s specific concerns include:

  • The exemption for financial institutions provides minimal relief. The conditions that must be met for a call to qualify are difficult, if not impossible for credit unions to meet;
  • The expansion of what is considered an autodialer is problematic. Clarifications on this is important for credit unions because oral or written consent is required if using an autodialer to contact a consumer’s mobile phone;
  • The order creates ambiguity about how consumers can revoke consent for autodialed calls. The language is problematic because it allows consent to be revoked in any time or almost any manner, meaning credit unions would theoretically have to monitor and document all communications with every member and every employee;
  • It increases the possibility of being liable under the TCPA when calling a re-assigned number the credit union has been given previous consent to call. According to the order, only one call can be made under a safe harbor, but this does not account for the dozens of reasons it may not be possible to connect with the consumer.

CUNA also used the letter as an opportunity to highlight Consumer Financial Protection Bureau statements that have conflicted with the order. These include the bureau urging financial institutions to contact consumers on mobile phones, praising the evolution of mobile financial services and apparent conflicts between the TCPA order and the bureau’s arbitration proposal.