Financial Trades Ask FCC to Exercise Caution on Robocall Restrictions
Credit union groups CUNA and NAFCU among those calling for balance on certain regulations, stricter oversight on others.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should tread lightly before placing restrictions on “non-conversational” robocalls—phone calls that include fraud alerts, school closings and payment reminders—a group of trade groups, including CUNA and NAFCU, said last week.
“As with all measures to address illegal robocalls, the commission should strive to strike an appropriate balance that minimizes the blocking of legitimate calls or erodes the ability of companies to engage in wanted or needed communications with their customers,” the credit union advocacy groups, alongside others representing student loan servicers, payday lenders and debt collectors, told the commission.
The FCC is soliciting comments on whether to further restrict robocalls that consumers receive, with submissions due last week.
Restrictions on non-conversational calls “would result in further blocking of legitimate, lawful calls—an outcome the commission should take every step to avoid,” the groups contended.
Greater Oversight on Other Rules
However, the organizations did ask the commission to tighten rules prohibiting “spoofing”—in which criminals disguise themselves as a legitimate caller.
In the comments, CUNA specifically noted that some credit union members recently have been spoofed. “Bad actors” convincingly posed as credit union employees and asked members to validate their identity before continuing the call. They then informed members that their accounts were being broken into.
“These bad actors mimicked customer service processes to build a sense of confidence in the called party and then emphasized a sense of urgency, leading the called parties to disclose their online banking credentials,” the letter read. “In response, credit unions have increased education and awareness campaigns to ensure members never give their online credentials over the phone.”
This type of spoofing is dangerous to consumers and the financial system, the trade groups said.
The organizations also asked that the agency move cautiously in imposing restrictions on the use of U.S. numbers for foreign-originated calls since member organizations also use callers from outside the country.
Stance of Consumer Groups
However, a consumer group and privacy advocate asked the FCC to take further action to crack down on robocalls.
“We urge the Commission take this battle up a notch: to issue regulations that are not only more aggressive, but also that impose more comprehensive requirements on providers,” the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the National Consumer Law Center wrote.
Noting that there are more than 33 million illegal robocalls every day, the groups said they encouraged the FCC “to address the illegal robocall problem with clear mandates, the violation of which will trigger expedited responses punishing the transgressors.”