Supreme Court Ruling Protects Banks’ Ability to Contact Customers

In a significant win for bank customers, the Supreme Court today confirmed that customers can receive important communications from their banks and other companies with whom they do business. The court issued its highly anticipated opinion in the case of Facebook v. Duguid—which addresses the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system,” commonly known as an “autodialer,” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

In the decision—which reversed that of a lower court—the Supreme Court offered a narrow interpretation of the definition of autodialer, as the American Bankers Association and others had urged. To qualify as an autodialer, “a device must have the capacity either to store a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator or to produce a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator,” the opinion said. This decision will enable banks to deliver routine, informational communications to their customers—including low-balance alerts, fraud warnings and other time-sensitive calls—with substantially less risk of liability under the TCPA.

ABA has been actively engaged in TCPA-related advocacy to both Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that customers can receive these critical, non-telemarketing communications from banks and other companies. ABA and a coalition of trade associations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Facebook case last year.

“Today’s ruling is a win-win,” ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols said in an email to bank CEOs. “Consumers will be able to receive critical, time-sensitive communications—low-balance alerts and fraud warnings, for example—while banks may continue to reach their customers in efficient ways.”