FCC Must Revise Call-Blocking Proposal to Protect Legal Calls

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposed blocking-by-default framework will inevitably lead to the blocking and mislabeling of calls, depriving credit union members of important information, CUNA wrote to the FCC Thursday. CUNA sent its comments in response to a proposal from the FCC that would block certain calls to consumers by default, requiring them to specifically opt in to receive certain calls.

CUNA, which issued an action alert earlier this week to solicit credit union feedback, has serious concerns about the proposal, which the FCC is scheduled to vote on June 6. “The draft Declaratory Ruling proposes no mechanism for either consumers or legitimate callers to learn that calls have been blocked and fails to establish any process for callers to quickly and efficiently unblock legitimate calls,” the letter reads. “Accordingly, CUNA urges the FCC to revise the draft declaratory ruling to include protections for legal automated calls prior to allowing the ruling to take effect.”

The letter includes CUNA-drafted language to include in the declaratory ruling that would require voice providers to implement a challenge mechanism before they begin offering blocking tools on an opt-out basis.  

It also urges the FCC to seek comment from stakeholders before adopting a blocking-by-default rule or, alternatively, require voice providers to have a method in place to unblock blocked calls before offering blocking on an opt-out basis.  

While CUNA supports efforts to minimize scam, fraud and unwanted telemarketing calls, it believes the FCC’s current effort to use opt-out call-blocking is overly broad and inconsistent with the TCPA. 

The letter also notes that call blocking conflicts with the legal obligations imposed on financial institutions by other federal agencies such as the CFPB’s early intervention rule, which requires mortgage loan servicers to make live contact with a delinquent borrower within 36 days of a delinquency and periodically thereafter if the loan remains delinquent. 

In addition to engagement with the FCC on this matter, CUNA has reached out to NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood via letter, as well as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger, asking them to intervene and request FCC delay and reconsider the proposal.