Slamming is the practice of switching your long distance carrier without your knowledge or consent. It is illegal, thanks to
Section 258 of the Telecommunications Act. The FCC has instituted some protection for consumers if they are victims
The FCC rules entitle the slamming victim to relief without having to file a formal complaint. If a consumer notifies a carrier to
report having been slammed, the carrier is required by law to inform the consumer that s/he is not required to pay any charges
during the first 30 days of the unauthorized switch.
Slamming victims are only responsible for what the calls would have cost them on the service they were originally using after the first 30 days. For example,
if your normal state-to-state rate is 5 cents a minute and you are slammed onto a service that charges 25 cents a minute you are entitled
to a 20 cents a minute refund for all the calls carried on the slamming carrier's network after the first 30 days - but all calls for the first 30 days are entirely free.
How can I prevent getting my service slammed?
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You can avoid many of these problems by planning ahead and being informed of the tactics used by some
carriers to switch your service without your consent:
- Request a "PIC Freeze" by calling your local telephone company. A PIC Freeze prevents the switching of your long distance carrier without your direct consent. This creates a little bit of a hassle if and when you actually do want to switch carriers, but prevents unauthorized switches. If you do decide to switch to a new carrier at a later date you will have to remove the PIC Freeze, or get a "PIC Code" from your new carrier to give your local telephone company.
- Beware of checks sent in the mail that contain any text on the back near the signature. Many promotional checks contain the legal language that authorizes the switch of your long distance service. If you are wondering why a long distance company is being so nice as to send you a check, be careful - nothing is free!
- If you receive a telemarketing call about telephone service tell the telemarketer you are not interested in switching and that you would like to be placed on their "Do Not Call List." The carrier then has 30 days to remove your name and number from their database. If you receive a call from the same company after 30 days they are in violation of the law, and you should tell them so.
- Review your bills carefully each month. Make sure that all of the names of the companies that are bundling their bill onto your local phone service are authorized by you. If you see anything that does not seem familiar, call your local phone company and ask for an explanation.
- If you receive any written communication welcoming you to a new long distance service that you did not request to be switched to, notify the sender that the request was not authorized. You should also notify your local phone company that you have not authorized any switch and to make sure they still have you on the service you want.
If you found this article a bit too late, and you are the victim of slamming, here are the steps to take to fix the situation:
- Call your local telephone company immediately and notify them you did not authorize the switching of your service. They should
switch you back to your intended choice. Be sure to tell them you also want all "switching charges" removed. If you do not ask
them to remove the switching charges you may be charged both for "switching" to the slamming carrier, and "switching" back to
your original choice. You are not required to pay such charges, and make sure to let the local phone company know that.
- Call your intended long distance carrier and let them know that you have been the victim of slamming. Ask them to re-establish your account and to make
sure that everything is in order. There should be no charge for this.
- Call the slamming carrier and notify them that you do not appreciate their practice and are aware of your rights. They are required by law to
remove all charges for the first 30 days of their slammed service. Make sure you insist on this. For any charges after the first
30 days they are required to refund the difference between their prices and your authorized carrier's prices. If the carrier will not fix
the charges, you should file a complaint with the FCC.
- If you have difficulty resolving the slamming situation at any stage, you can file a complaint with the FCC by filling out the form located on the
FCC Website or by calling the FCC complaint line at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).