FCC puts Lyft, First National Bank on notice

FCC puts Lyft, First National Bank on notice
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The Federal Communications Commission put Lyft and First National Bank on notice Friday about their policies on marketing calls and texts.  

The commission warned both companies that their policies violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by not letting users opt out of autodialed messages that are used for marketing. 


The FCC issued only a warning to the two companies, noting that it could begin imposing fines if the policies were not changed. The commission must issue a first warning to companies that do not hold licenses with the FCC. 

"To protect consumers from being forced to give consent unwillingly, FCC rules forbid requiring consumers to agree to receive marketing robocalls and autodialed calls/texts as a condition of purchasing any goods, services, or property," the commission wrote in a press release. 

Lyft, the app-based ride hailing service, allows customers to opt out of telemarketing texts and phone calls. But there is a catch: By opting out, users are no longer able to use the service, according to the FCC. In addition, the commission said the opt out feature is not easy to find. 

"This is the first we are seeing of the order and are in the process of reviewing it. We look forward to working with the FCC to resolve this issue," Lyft said in a statement. 

First National Bank requires customers to agree to receive autodialed marketing texts if they want to use the company's online banking services or sync their card with Apple Pay, according to the citation

The FCC recently exempted certain financial-based calls from the strict rules that prevent companies from placing robocalls or text without consent. But that exemption was limited only to a narrow set of circumstances, like an autodialed call to alert a bank customer of possible fraud. 

The commission has been increasingly aggressive in publicizing its enforcement action in relations to unwanted robocalls after it bolstered its rules earlier this year. 

It sent a similar warning to Paypal in June that its terms of service, which had not yet taken effect, could violate the commission's rules. That caused the payment company to change the policy.  

Republican FCC Commission Michael O'Rielly said the ruling highlights the commission's "complete clulessness when it comes to the tech economy."

"No one likes unwanted robocalls, but tech-savvy Americans are in for an unpleasant shock when they find the Commission’s action is slowly but surely eviscerating innovations they have come to rely on, and stopping future mobile breakthroughs in their tracks," he said in a statement. 

The FCC bars nearly all autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts to mobile phones without consent. It also bars those same kind of telemarketing calls to landlines. In addition, it prohibits companies from requiring consent as a condition of purchasing a product or service. And companies are supposed to notify customers of their right to refuse the calls. 

— Updated at 5:25 p.m.