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"Slamming" is the illegal practice of changing a consumer's telephone service - local or long distance service - without permission. The Commission's new slamming liability rules provide a remedy if you've been slammed and take the profit out of slamming for telephone companies. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau will also take action against slammers. These new rules apply to slamming violations that occur on or after November 28, 2000. (For slamming violations that occurred before that date, you can still file a complaint with the Commission.

What Are Your Rights If You Have Been Slammed?

You may file a complaint with the relevant state agency or with the FCC (see below).

If you find that you have been slammed, and you have NOT paid the bill of the carrier who slammed you:

  • You do not have to pay anyone for service for up to 30 days after being slammed, neither your authorized telephone company (the company you actually chose to provide service) nor the slamming company.

  • You must pay any charges for service beyond 30 days to your authorized company, but at that company's rates, not the slammer's rates.

If you HAVE paid your phone bill and then discover that you have been slammed:

  • The slamming company must pay your authorized company 150% of the charges it received from you.

  • Out of this amount, your authorized company will then reimburse you 50% of the charges you paid to the slammer.

  • For example, if you were charged $100 by the slamming company, that company will have to give your authorized company $150, and you will receive $50 as a reimbursement.

With these rules, the Commission has taken the profit out of slamming and protected consumers from illegal charges.

What Can I Do If I've Been Slammed?

If your telephone company has been changed without your permission:

  • Call the slamming company and tell them you want the problem fixed. If you have not paid, tell them you will not pay for the first 30 days of service.

  • Call your authorized company (local or long distance) to inform them of the slam. Tell them that you want to be reinstated to the same calling plan you had before the slam. Tell them that you want all "change of carrier charges" (charges for switching companies) removed from your bill.

  • File a complaint with the appropriate government agency. See the next section.

How do I File a Complaint?

See if your state is listed below. If it is, click on the state name to get directions on how to file your complaint. These states and commonwealths have agreed to handle your complaint.

If your state is not listed above, then send an e-mail or written complaint to the FCC. Here is the address:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer Information Bureau
445 12th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

Be sure to include this information:

  • Your name and address

  • Your telephone number

  • Your email address (if you have one)

  • Name of the phone company which slammed you

  • Name of the phone company which you authorized to provide your phone service

  • A complete statement of the facts

  • Copies of phone bills containing the charges which you dispute (Important: if you file using e-mail, your bill must be attached, electronically, to your e-mail. Otherwise, you must file by letter and attach paper copies of your bill)

  • The specific relief that you want

  • Whether you have paid any of the disputed charges.

Still Have Questions?

  • For futher information contact the FCC's Consumer Center at 1-888-CALLFCC (voice) or 1-888-TELLFCC (TTY).


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