FCC Plans $5.9 Million Fine against Telephone Company for Illegal 'Slamming'
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that it plans to fine Roman LD, Inc., a telephone company based in Irving, Texas, $5.9 million for allegedly switching consumers' long distance telephone services without their authorization ("slamming"), misrepresenting the company's identity during telemarketing calls, fabricating "authorization" recordings as "proof" of consumers' authorizations, and transferring control of the company without Commission approval.
"Consumers should be able to trust that they will not be billed for phone services they did not authorize or agree to," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. "Today's action reflects the FCC's commitment to holding companies accountable when they seek to make a buck by lying to consumers and illegally switching their chosen telephone carriers."
The Enforcement Bureau says that it reviewed over 100 complaints against Roman that consumers filed with the FCC, the Better Business Bureau, state regulatory agencies, and directly with Roman. Consumers complained that Roman switched their long distance service provider without their authorization. In some cases, consumers stated that Roman's telemarketer pretended to be employed by the consumer's own telephone carrier.
On at least two occasions, Roman apparently falsified an audio recording of the "authorization" to make it appear that the consumer had agreed to the carrier change. The Enforcement Bureau's investigation also showed that ownership and control of the company was apparently transferred, including its domestic and international authority to provide telecommunications services, without prior FCC approval as required by the Communications Act and Commission rules.
The Commission charged Roman with willfully and repeatedly switching consumers' preferred long distance carrier without verified authorization and transferring control of the company without authorization, all in apparent violation of the Communications Act and Commission rules.
The FCC has taken 30 enforcement actions for cramming or slamming in the past five years. These actions have assessed almost $100 million in penalties, and are slated to return more than $200 million to consumers victimized by these illicit tactics.
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.