FCC Rules In Favor of ACA’s Autodialer Petition

Commission clarifies that businesses
and their collectors may use autodialers and
prerecorded messages to wireless telephones, with consumer’s
consent.

(MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 7, 2008)—In a
major victory for ACA International and the credit and collection industry, the
Federal Communications Commission has responded favorably to ACA’s 2005 petition for clarification to the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Prior to the ruling, the TCPA
generally prohibited autodialed and prerecorded message calls to wireless
telephone numbers regardless of the purpose of the calls. Full text of the order
can be viewed at the FCC Web site: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-232A1.pdf.

The TCPA was enacted in 1991 but did
not become a challenge to credit grantors and collection professionals until the
release of the FCC’s revised TCPA Regulations in 2003. The revised regulations
inadvertently blocked the use of autodialed or prerecorded messages in the
normal course of business between creditors and their customers and debt
collectors calling about past due payment obligations as the commission sought
to reduce unwanted telemarketing activity to consumers’ wireless telephone
numbers. Between 1991, when the TCPA was first enacted and 2003, when the FCC
updated the regulations interpreting the TCPA, the FCC had consistently
recognized an exemption for calls made in connection with an existing customer
reltationship rather than for the purpose of
soliciting the sale of products or services by telemarketers.

“We are thrilled to deliver this win
for both creditors and collectors,” said ACA’s
Executive Vice President and General Counsel Rozanne
Andersen. “ACA thanks its members, the banking community, the retail and student
loan segments of the industry, government officials and the entire ACA staff who
fought so diligently to achieve this ruling. It’s a terrific example of ACA’s work to build coalitions of other organizations
outside our membership. Several large lending institutions and their
associations supported ACA’s petition. Key members of
Congress advanced our request and made this outcome possible. And of course, we
thank the FCC commissioners for their thoughtful and well reasoned review of our
issues,” Andersen said. “But most important, we are pleased the consumer
protections that were so artfully achieved by the enactment of the TCPA remain
in place. It is our mission to strike that perfect balance between the needs of
the business world with the very real privacy needs of
consumers.”

ACA plans additional guidance in the
coming weeks to help the industry comply with the new autodialer and messaging rules.

ACA International, the Association
of Credit and Collection Professionals, is the comprehensive, knowledge-based
resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA
brings together more than 5,500 members worldwide, including third-party
collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates.
The association establishes ethical standards, produces a wide variety of
products, services and publications, and articulates the value of the credit and
collection industry to businesses, policymakers and consumers. For more
information about ACA International, visit http://www.acainternational.org.

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