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Roman LD Slam Order

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Released: July 31, 2014
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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1116

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of

)

)

Roman LD, Inc.

)

IC Nos. 13-S003697

)

13-S3759719

Complaints Regarding

)

Unauthorized Change of

)

Subscriber’s Telecommunications Carrier

)

ORDER

Adopted: July 30, 2014

Released: July 31, 2014

By the Deputy Chief, Consumer Policy Division, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau:

1.

In this Order, we consider the complaints1 alleging that Roman LD, Inc. (Roman)

changed Complainants’ telecommunications service providers without obtaining authorization

and verification from Complainants in violation of the Commission’s rules.2

We conclude that

Roman’ actions did result in unauthorized changes in Complainants’ telecommunications service

providers and we grant Complainants’ complaints.

2.

In December 1998, the Commission released the Section 258 Order in which it

adopted rules to implement Section 258 of the Communications Act of 1934 (Act), as amended

by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (1996 Act).3

Section 258 prohibits the practice of

“slamming,” the submission or execution of an unauthorized change in a subscriber’s selection

of a provider of telephone exchange service or telephone toll service.4

In the Section 258 Order,

1

See Appendix.

2

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1100 – 64.1190.

3

47 U.S.C. § 258(a); Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996);

Implementation of the Subscriber Carrier Selection Changes Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996;

Policies and Rules Concerning Unauthorized Changes of Consumers’ Long Distance Carriers, CC Docket No. 94-

129, Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 14 FCC Rcd 1508 (1998) (Section 258

Order), stayed in part, MCI WorldCom v. FCC, No. 99-1125 (D.C. Cir. May 18, 1999); First Order on

Reconsideration, 15 FCC Rcd 8158 (2000); stay lifted, MCI WorldCom v. FCC, No. 99-1125 (D.C. Cir. June 27,

2000); Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration, 15 FCC Rcd 15996 (2000), Errata, DA No.

00-2163 (rel. Sept. 25, 2000), Erratum, DA No. 00-2192 (rel. Oct. 4, 2000), Order, FCC 01-67 (rel. Feb. 22, 2001);

Third Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 18 FCC Rcd 5099 (2003);

Order, 18 FCC Rcd 10997 (2003); Fourth Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 493 (2008). Prior to the adoption of

Section 258, the Commission had taken various steps to address the slamming problem. See, e.g., Policies and

Rules Concerning Unauthorized Changes of Consumers' Long Distance Carriers, CC Docket No. 94-129, Report

and Order, 10 FCC Rcd 9560 (1995), stayed in part, 11 FCC Rcd 856 (1995); Policies and Rules Concerning

Changing Long Distance Carriers, CC Docket No. 91-64, 7 FCC Rcd 1038 (1992), reconsideration denied, 8 FCC

Rcd 3215 (1993); Investigation of Access and Divestiture Related Tariffs, CC Docket No. 83-1145, Phase I, 101

F.C.C.2d 911, 101 F.C.C.2d 935, reconsideration denied, 102 F.C.C.2d 503 (1985).

4

47 U.S.C. § 258(a).

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1116

the Commission adopted aggressive new rules designed to take the profit out of slamming,

broadened the scope of the slamming rules to encompass all carriers, and modified its existing

requirements for the authorization and verification of preferred carrier changes. The rules

require, among other things, that a carrier receive individual subscriber consent before a carrier

change may occur.5

Pursuant to Section 258, carriers are absolutely barred from changing a

customer's preferred local or long distance carrier without first complying with one of the

Commission's verification procedures.6

Specifically, a carrier must: (1) obtain the subscriber's

written or electronically signed authorization in a format that meets the requirements of

Section 64.1130; (2) obtain confirmation from the subscriber via a toll-free number provided

exclusively for the purpose of confirming orders electronically; or (3) utilize an independent

third party to verify the subscriber's order.7

3.

The Commission also has adopted liability rules. These rules require the carrier

to absolve the subscriber where the subscriber has not paid his or her bill. In that context, if the

subscriber has not already paid charges to the unauthorized carrier, the subscriber is absolved of

liability for charges imposed by the unauthorized carrier for service provided during the first 30

days after the unauthorized change.8

Where the subscriber has paid charges to the unauthorized

carrier, the Commission’s rules require that the unauthorized carrier pay 150% of those charges

to the authorized carrier, and the authorized carrier shall refund or credit to the subscriber 50% of

all charges paid by the subscriber to the unauthorized carrier.9

Carriers should note that our

actions in this order do not preclude the Commission from taking additional action, if warranted,

pursuant to Section 503 of the Act.10

4.

We received Complainants’ complaints alleging that Complainants’

telecommunications service providers had been changed without Complainants’ authorization.11

Pursuant to Sections 1.719 and 64.1150 of our rules,12 we notified Roman of the complaints and

Roman responded.13

Roman states that authorization was received and confirmed through third

party verification (TPV) in each case. The Commission’s rules require that the verification elicit,

5

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120.

6

47 U.S.C. § 258(a).

7

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120(c). Section 64.1130 details the requirements for letter of agency form

and content for written or electronically signed authorizations. 47 C.F.R. § 64.1130.

8

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1140, 64.1160. Any charges imposed by the unauthorized carrier on the

subscriber for service provided after this 30-day period shall be paid by the subscriber to the authorized carrier at

the rates the subscriber was paying to the authorized carrier at the time of the unauthorized change. Id.

9

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1140, 64.1170.

10

See 47 U.S.C. § 503.

11

See Appendix.

12

47 C.F.R. § 1.719 (Commission procedure for informal complaints filed pursuant to Section 258

of the Act); 47 C.F.R. § 64.1150 (procedures for resolution of unauthorized changes in preferred carrier).

13

See Appendix.

2

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1116

amongst other things, confirmation that the person on the call is “authorized to make the carrier

change.” 14

We have reviewed the TPVs that Roman submitted with its responses. In each case,

the verifier instead asks the person on the call, “Are you at least 18 years of age and authorized

by the telephone account owner to make changes and incur charges on this telephone account,

yes or no?” An affirmative response does not establish whether the person was authorized to

make a carrier change and, therefore, in each case, the verifier has not elicited confirmation that

the person is authorized to make a carrier change.15

As we emphasized in the Fourth Report and

Order, “any description of the carrier change transaction…must not be misleading” and verifiers

should convey explicitly that “the consumers will have authorized a carrier change, and not for

instance an upgrade in existing service.”16

We find that Roman’s actions were in violation of our

carrier change rules, and we discuss Roman’s liability below.17

5.

Roman must remove all charges incurred for service provided to Complainants

for the first thirty days after the alleged unauthorized changes in accordance with the

Commission’s liability rules.18

We have determined that Complainants are entitled to absolution

for the charges incurred during the first thirty days after the unauthorized changes occurred and

that neither the Complainants’ authorized carrier nor Roman may pursue any collection against

Complainants for those charges.19

Any charges imposed by Roman on the subscribers for service

provided after this 30-day period shall be paid by the subscribers to their authorized carrier at the

rates the subscribers were paying to their authorized carriers at the time of the unauthorized

changes of telecommunications service providers.20

6.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 258 of the

Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 258, and Sections 0.141, 0.361 and

1.719 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.141, 0.361, 1.719, the complaints filed against

Roman LD, Inc., ARE GRANTED.

7.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to section 64.1170(d) of the

Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 64.1170(d), Complainants are entitled to absolution for the

14

See 47 C.F. R. § 64.1120(c)(3)(iii).

15

Cf. Consumer Telcom, Inc., Order on Reconsideration, 27 FCC Rcd 5340 (CGB 2012) (“the

verifier’s question, ‘Do you have authority to make changes to your long distance service?’ did not confirm that

the person was authorizing a change that would result in receiving service from a different carrier”).

16

See Fourth Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 493 (2008)(emphasis added); see also 47 C.F.R.

§ 64.1120(c)(3)(iii).

17

If either Complainant is unsatisfied with the resolution of this complaint, such Complainant may

file a formal complaint with the Commission pursuant to Section 1.721 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §

1.721. Such filing will be deemed to relate back to the filing date of such Complainant’s informal complaint so

long as the formal complaint is filed within 45 days from the date this order is mailed or delivered electronically to

such Complainant. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.719.

18

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1160(b).

19

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1160(d).

20

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1140, 64.1160.

3

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1116

charges incurred during the first thirty days after the unauthorized change occurred and neither

the Roman nor the authorized carriers may pursue any collection against Complainants for those

charges.

8.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Order is effective upon release.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Nancy A. Stevenson, Deputy Chief

Consumer Policy Division

Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

4

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1116

APPENDIX

INFORMAL

DATE OF

DATE OF

COMPLAINT

COMPLAINT

RESPONSE

NUMBER

13-S003697

November 6, 2013

December 10, 2013

13-S3759719

December 11, 2013

January 6, 2014

5

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