Congress is about to pass the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015. The budget agreement includes significant amendments to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. As proposed, the TCPA will soon permit autodialed calls to cell phones, without the called party’s prior express consent, if the call is made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States. This would seem to cover Federal Direct Student loans, Perkins loans, Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) loans and Veterans Administration loans. The budget agreement also would authorize the Federal Communications Commission, in conjunction with the Department of the Treasury, to issue rules and regulations to protect consumers from being harassed or contacted unreasonably, such as restricting or limiting the number and duration of calls.
If passed these amendments could have a serious impact on borrower default. Many lenders believe (and data support the view) that defaults will decline if lenders have reasonable, cost effective ways to contact borrowers. Once a borrower is reached, options to default can be explained and default often avoided. Following the FCC’s disappointing order this summer, this is welcome news for covered lenders.