FCC Cracks Down on Slamming and Cramming with Ban on Sales Call Misrepresentations

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At its June Open Meeting, the FCC adopted new rules to prevent consumers from being switched to a different phone provider without their consent or having unauthorized charges added to their phone bills – illegal practices known respectively as “slamming” and “cramming.”  Phone companies that engage in slamming and cramming often misrepresent themselves on sales calls or falsify a customer’s verification to switch service providers.  Accordingly, the new rules establish a clear ban on sales call misrepresentations and provide that such distortions nullify any permission given by a consumer to change phone companies.  The new rules also reaffirm the existing ban on cramming by explicitly prohibiting the placement of unauthorized charges on customers’ phone bills.  Phone providers that abuse the third-party verification process for switching a consumer’s preferred carrier will now be subject to a five-year suspension from using that process.  Finally, to streamline the third-party verification process, the Commission has scrapped the requirement that a phone company obtain a customer’s permission for each service being sold.

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