ABA to FCC: Preserve Banks’ Ability to Contact Customers Under TCPA

In a comment letter to the Federal Communications Commission today, the American Bankers Association urged the FCC to preserve banks’ ability to advise their customers of data breaches, suspicious account activity, low account balances and other important information in a timely and efficient manner. The letter came in response to a recent petition that seeks to upend the FCC’s existing interpretation of the “prior express consent” requirement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Under the TCPA, banks must obtain prior express consent from consumers before calling or texting them with informational, non-telemarketing messages using an automated system. Under the FCC’s current interpretation, banks must receive oral consent from the customer in order to make these calls, and this requirement can be satisfied when a customer voluntarily provides the bank with a telephone number. The petition, however, urges to the FCC to require written consent from the customer prior to contacting them.

ABA noted that if the FCC were to change its interpretation, it would prevent banks from making potentially millions of calls each month, “mak[ing]it more difficult for consumers to consent to receive important information from their financial institutions, and potentially leav[ing]customers confused and frustrated.” The association added that changes to the current interpretation would violate Congress’ intent to give the FCC flexibility to design rules appropriate for different types of calls, and to provide consumers with choice of contact, rather than isolation from contact. The proposal would also increase regulatory burden and costs to banks making these types of calls, ABA noted. For more information, contact ABA’s Jonathan Thessin.