January 6, 1997 - A fast growing consumer rip-off involves a procedure called slamming, in which long-distance phone service is changed without getting the permission of the consumer or business. This occurs when a telephone service provider, usually a small, high-priced company, informs the local phone company that a consumer has selected it to replace their current long-distance carrier. Assuming the consumer agreed to change, the local carrier switches the long-distance company.
In many cases, phone bills can double in size as a result of slamming. There are ways, however, to avoid such an unauthorized change in your telephone service:
Check your monthly phone bill regularly to ensure that you recognize the phone companies listed.
To verify your long distance carrier, call toll-free 1-700-555-4141.
If you have been "slammed", call your phone company immediately. Tell the account representative to switch you back to your chosen carrier.
Insist that any switching fee be waived or charged to the company that slammed you.
To avoid future slamming, have your local phone company, which generally handles billing for all of your carriers, put a freeze on your account. Once a freeze is imposed, no company can alter your account without your written or verbal permission.
By following the easy steps above, consumers can avoid paying highly exaggerated long-distance costs on phone bills. If you are unable to resolve your complaint with the company that switched your service, you can file a complaint with the FCC by sending a letter, to: Federal Communications Commission, Common Carrier Bureau, Enforcement Division, Informal Complaints and Public Inquiries Branch, Mail Stop Code 1600A2, 2025 M St., NW, Washington, DC 20554. Consumers are also encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-551-4636.