House Robocall Bill Lacks Mechanism for Legitimate Callers

While CUNA applauds bipartisan efforts from Congress to address robocalls and the Federal Communication Commission’s treatment of them, it has concerns with the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375). The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology marked up H.R. 3375 Tuesday.

“We applaud the bipartisan effort that produced H.R. 3375, and we appreciate the recognition that the FCC should move quickly to clarify the definition of an autodialer. This provision will help facilitate credit unions’ and other legitimate businesses’ compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA),” CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle wrote to the subcommittee Tuesday. “We continue to encourage the FCC narrowly tailor the definition of an autodialer to target illegal automated calls, rather than preventing legitimate actors from broadly using any form of automated telephonic communication with consumers. Nevertheless, we still have concerns with the legislation in its current form.”

CUNA is concerned with the omission of:

  • A notice and complaint mechanism for opt-in, white-list call blocking. Though the FCC’s recent declaratory ruling requires a complaint and notice mechanism for both opt-out and opt-in call blocking services, H.R. 3375 requires that process only for opt-out calls—as a result, credit unions would have no notice of when a consumer has chosen to opt-in to no longer receiving their calls due to their decision to limit their telephone services to “white-list” contacts exclusively;
  • A redress for erroneous call-blocking by the FCC. Unlike the FCC’s final declaratory ruling regarding call-blocking services, H.R. 3375 does not authorize callers to seek recourse from the Commission for erroneously blocked calls. Given that callers will not necessarily have a direct contractual with a voice service provider, it is essential that callers have the ability to seek assistance from the FCC to ensure that erroneously blocked calls are unblocked; and
  • Cost protection language for callers using the notice and complaint process for call-blocking services. Though the bill indicates that customers cannot be charged for call-blocking or complaint resolution services for erroneously blocked calls, it does not include similar language protecting legitimate callers seeking to have their call abilities restored.

“CUNA believes that it is imperative for each of these issues to be resolved prior to the enactment of this legislation and ask you to consider the impact this legislation in its current form might have on credit unions, which are not-for profit financial cooperatives that are owned by their members, as they work to comply with the TCPA and their ongoing responsibilities as financial service providers under regulations put forth by other federal agencies,” the letter reads.

“We also encourage the subcommittee to include report language and to make other efforts to establish legislative history that it is not the intent of this legislation to prevent credit unions and legitimate businesses from providing members and customers with critical information regarding their accounts or business relationship,” it adds.