Trade Associations: FCC Must ‘Seize Opportunity’ to Provide Clarity on TCPA

A federal judge’s recent action to vacate portions of the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 order on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act has provided a new opportunity for the FCC to clarify certain definitions and take steps to ensure that consumers can continue to receive important communications from banks and other businesses, ABA and seven other financial trade groups said in a joint letter to Senate leaders. The letter was sent in advance of a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on abusive robocalls.

Last month, the court vacated the portion of the FCC’s order providing an expansive interpretation of the term “autodialer” for the purposes of TCPA, as well as the FCC’s policy on calls made to numbers belonging to people who had consented to receive calls, but had since been reassigned to non-consenting persons. The association urged lawmakers to encourage FCC to promptly redefine and clarify the meaning of the term autodialer, and take other steps including establishing a free or low-cost reassigned numbers database.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act has long imposed undue restrictions on when and how businesses can contact their customers by phone, and has been the source of much litigation in recent years. The associations noted that TCPA lawsuits have increased by more than 1200 percent between 2010 and 2016, causing banks and other businesses to limit or in some cases eliminate communications that consumers want  and expect to receive. They added that swift action by the FCC to provide further clarity “will permit businesses to provide beneficial communications to their members and customers without the threat of costly litigation.”