Welcome to Consumer Reports Advocacy

For 85 years CR has worked for laws and policies that put consumers first. Learn more about CR’s work with policymakers, companies, and consumers to help build a fair and just marketplace at TrustCR.org

Did long-distance “slamming” get easier?

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 they’re
dealing with a customer capable of authorizing a switch. If the carrier
is wrong, the switch is still legal.

Even with the court’s ruling, however,
slamming remains a crime.


  • 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 you’ve been slammed, you are not required to pay the charges
    for the first 30 days; afterward, you must pay, but at the old company’s
    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.