The trade group representing credit unions yesterday submitted a letter to its primary regulator voicing its concerns surrounding the Federal Communication Commission‘s changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The letter spells out many of the same concerns that have been voiced by other participants in the financial services industry, including ACA International, which has filed a lawsuit against the FCC challenging its authority to make these specific changes.
This is the first time that a group representing actual financial institutions has spoken out since the changes were announced nearly a month ago.
While CUNA supports the concept of preserving consumers’ rights to privacy on their cell phones and protecting financial information, this Order goes far beyond the scope or purpose of the TCPA – which incidentally was enacted in 1991 before cell phones and mobile devices were commonly used. The Order disregards consumers’ preferences to use new technologies and modern forms of communication, and makes it more difficult for credit unions to communicate with their members about fraud, data breaches, and other pertinent account updates.
CUNA also points out how the changes now open credit unions to TCPA-related class-action lawsuits.
The FCC is also taken to task for its requirement that all communications with consumers be what is known as “free to end user” or FTEU, which means that there can be no charges for incoming calls or texts to consumers’ cell phones.
For instance, arguably many credit union members would prefer to use a few of their minutes to instantly learn about fraudulent transactions, rather than waiting for a credit union to jump through the hoops of assuring that the call was free.
Like ACA International, CUNA also has problems with the incredibly expansive definition of what now constitutes an autodialer, making the example that a smartphone could conceivably be considered an autodialer under the new rules.
CUNA also lays out its opposition to the one-call sage harbor rule, the consumers’ right to revoke consent to be contacted by virtually any means they choose, and calls out the FCC for the backward thinking of classifying text messages as calls.
While the substantial compliance burdens associated with this Order are troubling, the fact that credit unions could be bait for frivolous and costly litigation in this area is even more distressing. We urge the NCUA to take immediate action with the FCC on behalf of credit unions and their more than 100 million members.
Click here to read the full letter.