The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a $1.44 million fine against Encino, California-based long distance carrier Preferred Long Distance for "slamming."
Slamming is the illegal practice of switching a consumer's traditional wireline telephone company for local, local toll, or long distance service without permission—which is exactly what the Commission says Preferred Long Distance did.
According to the FCC, the company's telemarketers pretended to be representatives of customers' existing long distance providers, and switched the customers' long distance carriers without proper authorization.
"Consumers and small business owners have enough on their plates without worrying that those who claim to be calling from the phone company are telling the truth," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. "The FCC will aggressively pursue companies who try to turn a quick profit by deceiving telephone customers or switching their carriers behind their backs."
The Commission says that it became aware of this activity after receiving numerous complaints from consumers and small businesses reporting that telemarketers representing Preferred Long Distance had contacted them pretending to be employed by the customers' existing long distance provider. In the complaints, the customers say that they only learned that their long distance service had been switched after receiving their telephone bills.
FCC rules prohibit a carrier from switching a consumer's chosen long distance provider without obtaining properly verified authorization to make the change. In addition, the Communications Act makes it unlawful for a carrier to misrepresent its identity or the nature of its service to obtain that authorization.
For more information about the FCC's rules protecting consumers from unauthorized changes to their telephone carrier, see the FCC consumer guide to slamming.
To file a complaint with the FCC, go to consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or contact the FCC's Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).