FCC Fines Optic Internet Protocol $7.62 Million for Cramming and Slamming
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined Optic Internet Protocol, Inc., a telephone company based in Alpharetta, GA, $7,620,000 for changing consumers' long distance carriers without their authorization (slamming), placing unauthorized charges for service on consumers' telephone bills (cramming), and submitting fabricated audio recordings as "proof" that consumers had authorized the company to switch their carriers.
"Consumers should be able to count on companies not to load their phone bills with phony charges" said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. "The FCC will enforce the law to the fullest extent possible to stop companies from taking advantage of consumers by switching their telephone carriers and placing charges on their telephone bills without authorization."
The Enforcement Bureau reviewed more than 150 consumer complaints against Optic that were filed with the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state regulatory agencies, and the Better Business Bureau. Consumers complained that Optic switched their long distance service provider without their authorization, and that they had never heard of or spoken to the company before discovering charges on their telephone bills.
Consumers also complained that Optic told them that they or someone in their household had authorized the service, when in fact no one had done so. It appears Optic fabricated audio recordings to "prove" that consumers authorized changes in their services, played these bogus recordings for consumers and produced them for law enforcement; the recordings, however, did not in any way relate to the consumers at issue.
With today's action, the FCC has now taken nearly 30 enforcement actions against companies for cramming or slamming in the past five years. These actions have totaled more than $90 million in penalties, and are slated to return more than $200 million to consumers.
For more information about the FCC's rules protecting consumers from unauthorized charges on phone bills, see the FCC consumer guide, Cramming – Unauthorized, Misleading, or Deceptive Charges Placed on Your Telephone Bill.
Consumers with additional questions about this, or any other communications issue, can contact the FCC's Consumer Center by calling toll-free 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322). The FCC's consumer website also offers a plethora of helpful tips and information, including instructions on how to file a complaint with the Commission.