FCC Issues Public Notice Regarding Requested TCPA Exemptions for Credit Unions

On October 6, 2017, the FCC issued a Public Notice that seeks comment on a Petition that was recently filed by the Credit Union National Association. Specifically, the Public Notice seeks comment on whether it should “adopt an established business relationship exemption from the [TCPA’s] prior-express-consent requirement for informational autodialed or artificial- or prerecorded-voice calls (including text messages) made by or on behalf of credit unions to their members’ wireless phone numbers,” or, alternatively, whether it should “exercise its statutory authority to exempt from the TCPA’s prior-express-consent requirement credit union informational calls made to its members’ wireless phone numbers that are in fact free to the called party.”

The Petition argued that the requested exemptions are necessary in order to “resolve confusion created by the current fractured TCPA regulatory landscape and to eliminate the antiquated distinctions between informational calls made to residential lines and those made to wireless subscribers.” It explained that, “[n]ow that the majority of Americans have abandoned their landlines, and the vast majority of calls and texts are free to wireless subscribers, it is time for the Commission to eliminate the arbitrary and antiquated distinction between informational calls to residential lines and the same informational communications to cellphones.”

The Petition also noted that “[c]redit unions are tax-exempt nonprofit financial cooperatives” whose members “not only use their credit union’s financial services but also participate in the governance of their credit union.” The relationship between a credit union and its member-owners relies on “educational and governance-related communications” that “relay both critical financial information and educational materials that aid members in fulfilling their responsibilities as owners of the cooperative enterprise.” However, “the confusion and uncertainty currently surrounding the various conditions and exemptions that have accreted over time,” “[c]oupled with potentially crippling liability should a credit union miscalculate the applicability of an exemption,” is “causing credit unions to curtail communicating with their member-owners altogether.” “Adoption of these exemptions,” the Petition explained, “would restore the balance that Congress sought to achieve between consumers’ privacy interests and the legitimate interests of businesses to communicate with their consumers.”

Opening Comments are due on November 6 and Reply Comments are due on November 21.