Did long-distance “slamming” get easier?
from Consumer Reports Magazine, June 2003
A federal appeals court has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission went too far with regulations designed to protect consumers from the federal crime of "slamming"–having your long-distance service switched to a different company without your consent.
The FCC has required long-distance companies to obtain actual authorization from the customer for a switch in service.
The company had to obtain a letter authorizing the change or it had to
have an independent party call the customer to confirm.
A letter or phone call is still required.
But in a decision handed down on April 8, the Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia ruled that carriers must only believe theyre
dealing with a customer capable of authorizing a switch. If the carrier
is wrong, the switch is still legal.
Even with the courts ruling, however,
slamming remains a crime.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Ask your local phone company
for a "primary interexchange carrier" freeze, which prevents
any change unless you authorize it in writing.
- If your state has a "do
not call" list, sign up to limit (but not eliminate) telemarketing
- Promotions that use "free" checks
may authorize a change in long-distance carriers when you endorse the
check. Read the terms carefully.
- If youve been slammed, you are not required to pay the charges
for the first 30 days; afterward, you must pay, but at the old companys
rates. Call the carrier you want and ask it to restore your calling
plan and remove all "change of carrier" fees. Report the
slamming to the FCC, state regulators, or both. The slamming
company must pay your long-distance carrier 150 percent of any amount
it collected from you. Your authorized company will then refund 50
percent of the charges you paid.