The chairman of the governing board of the federal credit union regulatory agency has lent his support to a third-party petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that seeks the ability for financial institutions to make some automated calls to consumers under an “emergency purposes exception” of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) released the May 19 letter Tuesday through a press release. In that letter, NCUA Board Chairman Rodney Hood, writing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, referred to a petition filed March 30 that seeks “the Commission’s determination that, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain automated calls would fall under the Emergency Purposes Exception of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.” The associations (petitioners), Hood said, were asking the commission to find permissible calls in three “broad” categories: options for loan modifications, changes to how consumers access their institution’s services, and warnings about potential fraud.
“I also understand the CFPB has contacted you on this issue,” Hood noted.
“The NCUA has supported and encouraged federally insured credit unions in their efforts to provide credit union members with prudent debt relief and help members understand the range of relief possibilities,” he wrote. “Consumers may benefit from additional information about the various loan relief programs and options that may be available to them. Autodialed calls providing information about payment deferrals, fee waivers, loan term extensions, other loan modifications, and forbearance could assist consumers during this challenging time.”
NCUA notes that Hood said financial institutions were not seeking permission to make automated calls related to advertising, telemarketing, or seeking payment on a debt. “Financial institutions must remain subject to the TCPA’s existing restrictions on autodialed advertising and debt collection calls,” he wrote. “Finally, I note that federally insured credit unions, like other financial institutions, remain subject to all other consumer protection laws that apply to any loans that are the subject of autodialed calls.”