Keeping in Contact March 19, 2020 There are many different ways that the coronavirus threat highlights and intersects with a host of other, seemingly unrelated policy issues. For example, access to health care, the ability of hourly or part time workers to build a social or economic safety net for themselves and their families, or how federal and state government can put in place the necessary preparations and protections to meet the needs of citizens. Those are some of the big issues that policymakers grapple with. There are also a host of smaller issues that are revealed by such things as social distancing or self-quarantining. One prime example is the importance of telephone communications. As branch offices for financial institutions reduce their hours or close, many are communicating with borrowers via phone calls. These calls relay critical information, such as adjustments to payment schedules, relief efforts, and practical information like changes in branch hours. Now, when such calls are truly needed, banks, credit card companies, vehicle finance companies and installment lenders are running into issues due to important – and worthy – efforts by policymakers and a number of industries to tamp down illegal robocalls. Today, in their effort to block illegal calls, telecommunications companies inadvertently block legitimate calls from businesses to their customers. In addressing this pandemic, there is plenty keeping our federal and state governments busy. But if this issue isn’t addressed, financial institutions may not be able reach their customers during times when such contact is necessary. The American Financial Services Association and its members stand ready to work with policymakers and other players involved in this issue to find a solution that both protects consumers from robocalls and potential scammers, while ensuring legitimate calls reach the people who need to receive them.