Supreme Court TCPA Ruling Protects Text Messaging Credit Union Members

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Facebook recently won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case that ultimately determined what is legally considered an auto-dialing system — and protects the ability of Credit Unions to continue to use Text Messaging to communicate with their members.

In Duguid v. Facebook, the court found that Facebook’s automated Text Messaging system does not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), which prohibits companies from sending unsolicited text messages.

The case was brought to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2015 by Noah Duguid, who was receiving automated Text Messages from Facebook, although he did not have a Facebook account. Facebook argued the texts were meant for a user who formerly had Duguid’s phone number and were security related. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that Facebook’s text alerts on suspicious logins do not qualify as robocalls. 

The ruling recognizes that the law was not intended to prohibit companies from sending targeted security notifications. That is good news for credit unions and businesses that may choose to use Text Messaging for account alerts, personal loan information or other sensitive information. The decision permits the use of Text Messaging in ways that will keep the member accounts safe.

The winning argument in the case is that an automated telephone dialing system (also called a “robo-dialer” or “autodialer”) only calls numbers randomly or sequentially. Text Messaging implementations use a set list of members’ phone numbers and are not randomly generated. A ruling against Facebook would have been very costly: The 1991 law stipulates that the social media company would pay each American hit with the company’s automated message restitution of up to $1,500 each.

Credit Unions have embraced Text Messaging as a secure, fast and efficient way to provide users with an additional layer of security to prevent anyone from accessing their account and personal information. That can be done, for example, by sending authorization codes through Text Messaging. 

The desire to send and receive Text Messaging goes beyond providing security. Many people welcome the ability to quickly communicate via text not only with their financial institutions, but also any company with which they do business. By finding in favor of Facebook, the court ensured that Credit Unions will be able to continue using Text Messaging with their members.

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