The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a fine of more than a $1.4 million against a California-based telecommunications firm that allegedly changed the preferred long-distance telecommunications service of a group of consumers without authorization, a practice known as “slamming.”
In a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture issued in December 2012, the Commission proposed a fine of $1,440,000 for Preferred Long Distance, Inc. of Encino, CA for switching telephone service of 14 consumers without authorization. In this particular instance, Preferred telemarketers allegedly represented themselves to 11 of those consumers as employees of their incumbent long-distance carrier, which the Commission found “deceptive” and “fraudulent.”
Section 258 of the federal Communications Act prohibits carriers from changing a subscriber’s selection of telephone service providers without their explicit permission. The Commission’s forfeiture guidelines have established a base forfeiture amount of $40,000 for each instance of slamming. However, because of the egregious behavior by Preferred telemarketers in misrepresenting themselves to consumers, the Commission proposed tripling the base forfeiture amount in each instance of deception, resulting is a total proposed forfeiture of $1,440,000.