Robocall Hearing Focuses on TRACED Act

A Senate Commerce sub-committee held a hearing Thursday to examine an FCC report on robocalls and review the steps that Congress is taking to provide relief from illegal calls. Witnesses offered support for the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, or TRACED Act (S.151), which was introduced by sub-committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and member Ed Markey (D-MA) and discussed suitable definitions of "autodialer."

While credit unions share concerns about unwanted robocalls to consumers, CUNA believes the TRACED Act as presently drafted would negatively impact credit union-member communications. CUNA pledged to work with legislators to improve the legislation in a letter sent earlier this month to Senate Commerce Committee leadership in advance of the committee’s mark-up of S. 151 and other bills.

Regulations implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) are causing confusion for credit unions wishing to inform members of important account information without threat of legal action. CUNA has been working with the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to find a solution.

CUNA believes that in its current state, the TRACED Act would “expand that threat of litigation by extending the period for a cause of action and increasing the penalties available under the TCPA without first providing a statutory exemption for legitimate businesses seeking to relay information to their existing customers.”

The bill would also enact a safe harbor for telecommunications providers who misidentify legitimate calls for the purposes of blocking them without establishing protections to minimize the harm to legitimate businesses or providing them with any meaningful mechanism for recourse.

“Given these consequences, CUNA and our credit union members do not support the passage of the TRACED Act as introduced,” the letter reads. “Instead, we urge you to work with us to craft an exception to TCPA that properly recognizes the distinction between unwanted robocalls and legitimate business communications.”