AFSA asks FCC to address 3 issues with outdated TCPA

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Remember 1991? The Gulf War intensified. Then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton began his trek to the White House and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 3,000 for the first time.

Fast forward 26 years and the Middle East remains unsettled, Hillary Clinton missed on her second attempt at the presidency and the stock market now sits above 21,000.

And the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) remains as it was written back in 1991 despite the evolution of smartphones, auto dialers and more technology.

The American Financial Services Association reached out to the new chairman Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, in an effort to stimulate a revamp of the TCPA to aid in collections and beyond.

, AFSA executive vice president Bill Himpler outlined a list of recommendations on how the TCPA could be modified to help businesses communicate better with their customers in light of common technology so readily available in the 21st century.

Among some of the main problems with how the TCPA currently is written, AFSA highlighted three main points in its message to the head of the FCC, touching on:

— Auto-dialers: Enacted in 1991, AFSA stated the TCPA was intended to prevent consumers from being harassed by telemarketers using auto-dialing equipment to randomly individuals with unwanted and unsolicited calls. In 2015, the FCC held that any system that has the “capacity” to store and dial telephone numbers is an autodialer. Therefore, all modern telephones are arguably auto-dialers, in AFSA’s view.

— Reassigned numbers: AFSA acknowledged businesses regularly obtain “prior express consent” to their customers upon initiation of a customer relationship. Even so, according to the FCC, when a business calls a cell phone number without knowledge that the number has been reassigned, it can make only one call to the old number before subsequent calls violate the TCPA, according to AFSA.

— Consent: AFSA stated a business can no longer safely rely on consent because a number may change hands without warning. In addition, a customer may revoke consent by “any reasonable means.” In fairness, AFSA said the FCC should provide for a reasonable standard, such as requiring revocation in writing.

“Simplifying the TCPA regulations will bring back these jobs and create additional opportunities. We hope that the FCC’s regulatory task force focuses on the benefits to reviewing and modifying the current TCPA regulations and we are happy to provide any assistance that might be useful,” Himpler wrote.

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