FCC Fines Seven Companies $1.2 Million for Slamming and Cramming Violations
The Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has settled its investigations of seven companies that have admitted to billing consumers for services without their authorization.
Business Network Long Distance, Inc., Communications Network Billing, Inc., Integrated Services, Inc., Multiline Long Distance, Inc., National Access Long Distance, Inc., Nationwide Long Distance Service, Inc., and Network Service Billing, Inc., "slammed" consumers by changing their preferred long distance telephone carriers without authorization, and "crammed" consumers by assessing charges on their telephone bills without their consent.
As part of the settlement, the companies will pay civil penalties totaling $1.2 million dollars, and must adopt comprehensive, rigorous compliance plans going forward to forestall future cramming and slamming violations. Back Office Support Systems, Inc. (BOSS) manages many functions for each of the companies, and is also bound by the compliance plan, as are its principal and the principals of each of the seven companies.
"The deceptive practices of switching consumers' telephone carriers and placing charges on their telephone bills without their authorization unfortunately are persistent problems," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau. "The FCC has aggressively responded to hold phone companies accountable when they prey on the public, and these settlements demonstrate that we will continue to do so."
The Commission's Enforcement Bureau reviewed more than 150 consumer complaints stating that these seven companies engaged in widespread cramming and slamming of consumers. The settlement requires the seven companies to pay a combined fine of $1.2 million and implement a comprehensive compliance plan to forestall any future slamming and cramming violations.
With today's settlements, the Commission has now taken nearly 30 enforcement actions for cramming or slamming in the past five years. These actions have announced more than $85 million in penalties, and are slated to return more than $200 million to consumers.
The FCC has additional information on its website for consumers on cramming and slamming. Consumers who believe they may be victims of such unauthorized charges should file a complaint with the Commission at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/en-us.