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Does a bank require a customer's prior consent in order to send a text message regarding a service interruption to a subscribed service?

My bank is considering using SMS (text) messaging to alert our customers that the services they subscribe to (online/mobile banking) will have a temporary service interruption. These will not be marketing messages. Would the customer have needed to provide prior consent in order for the bank to send a text message regarding this service interruption?

Yes, it appears that prior express consent is required. While the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) includes an “emergency purposes” exception to its general prohibition on making automated or prerecorded calls or sending texts to a cellular telephone number without the called party’s prior express consent, the definition of “emergency purposes” is limited. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interprets this to mean, “Calls made necessary in any situation affecting the health and safety of consumers.”  The FCC has stated that it intended the exception for “instances [that] pose significant risks to public health and safety, and [where] the use of prerecorded message calls could speed the dissemination of information regarding…potentially hazardous conditions to the public.”  It does not appear that a temporary service interruption rises to the level of an “emergency” allowing the bank to text without the customer’s prior consent. (October 2020)

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