The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a fine of more than a $7 million against a Florida-based telecommunications firmed that allegedly changed the preferred long-distance telecommunications service of a group of consumers without authorization (a practice known as “slamming”), and for placing unauthorized charges on consumers’ telephone bills (known as “cramming”).
In a recent Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, the Commission proposed a fine of $7,600,000 against Advantage Telecommunications Corporation of Winter Park, FL for 64 instances of slamming or cramming. In this particular instance, Advantage Telecommunications telemarketers allegedly represented themselves to consumers as employees of their incumbent long-distance carrier. According to the Commission, “Advantage appears to have engaged in this kind of deception repeatedly.”
The Federal Communications Act prohibits carriers from changing a subscriber’s selection of telephone service providers without their explicit permission, or for billing them without authorization. The proposed forfeiture in this case is nearly five times the amount proposed by the Commission in December 2012 against a California-based company. In that instance, the Commission proposed a forfeiture of more than $1.4 million against Preferred Long Distance, Inc. of Encino, CA for allegedly switching long-distance telephone service for 14 consumers without authorization.