New York Credit Union Association President/CEO William J. Mellin submitted a comment to the Federal Communications Commission on CUNA’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act petition. The TCPA makes it unlawful for a person to make any call using any automatic telephone dialing system or pre-recorded voice without the prior expressed consent of the called party.
CUNA’s petition was filed with the intention of seeking a declaratory ruling to give credit unions greater flexibility in using cell phones and text messages to provide informational messages to members.
In writing in support of the petition, Mellin said it would provide much needed guidance in a needlessly confusing area of compliance, update existing regulations to reflect technological changes, and provide a consumer benefit to members that is consistent with the underlying purpose of the act.
“The TCPA is becoming less of a consumer protection statute and more of a trip wire for class action litigation,” Mellin explained. “When it was signed into law in 1991, the intent of the Congress was to protect the privacy interests of residential telephone subscribers by placing restrictions on unsolicited automated telephone calls. Today, credit unions must struggle with applying this statute’s mandates and regulations to technology that was inconceivable at the time of the statute’s adoption.”
Mellin went on to explain that the nature of credit unions as cooperatives means that an individual must have taken several affirmative steps to become a member. “In short, the very structure of credit unions ensures that credit union members are not subject to the harassment the TCPA was designed to prevent,” he wrote.
In concluding his letter, Mellin noted that “any regulation that continues to make a distinction between a cell phone and a landline is hopelessly outdated… It simply makes no sense to distinguish between landlines and cell phones at a time when consumers make no such distinction and would be shocked to find out that their financial institutions still do.”