Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

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 CommissionCommon 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.