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Verizon Slamming Order

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Released: July 23, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1611

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Verizon
)
IC No. 12-S3319579
)
Complaint Regarding
)
Unauthorized Change of
)
Subscriber's Telecommunications Carrier
)

ORDER

Adopted: July 18, 2013

Released: July 23, 2013

By the Deputy Chief, Consumer Policy Division, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau:
1.
In this Order, we consider the complaint filed by Complainant1 alleging that
Verizon changed Complainant's telecommunications service provider without obtaining
authorization and verification from Complainant in violation of the Commission's rules.2 We
conclude that Verizon's actions did result in an unauthorized change in Complainant's
telecommunications service provider and we grant Complainant's complaint.
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


1
Informal Complaint No. IC 12-S3319579, filed February 1, 2012.
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 Carrier
s, 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).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1611

a provider of telephone exchange service or telephone toll service.4 In the Section 258 Order, 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 Complainant's complaint on February 1, 2012, alleging that
Complainant's telecommunications service provider had been changed to Verizon without
Complainant's authorization. Pursuant to Sections 1.719 and 64.1150 of our rules,11 we notified


4
47 U.S.C. 258(a).
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
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).
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1611

Verizon of the complaint and Verizon responded on March 9, 2012.12 Verizon admits that a
third party verification (TPV) or letter of agency (LOA) was not found for the changes, as
required by our rules.13 Therefore, we find that Verizon's actions resulted in an unauthorized
change of Complainant's telecommunications service provider, and we discuss Verizon's
liability below.14
5.
Pursuant to Section 64.1170(b) our rules, Verizon must forward to Metropolitan
Telecommunications an amount equal to 150% of all charges paid by the subscriber to Verizon
along with copies of any telephone bills issued from Verizon to the Complainant.15 Within ten
days of receipt of this amount, Metropolitan Telecommunications shall provide a refund or credit
to Complainant in the amount of 50% of all charges paid by Complainant to Verizon.
Complainant has the option of asking Metropolitan Telecommunications to re-rate Verizon
charges based on Metropolitan Telecommunications rates and, on behalf of Complainant, seek
from Verizon, any re-rated amount exceeding 50% of all charges paid by Complainant to
Verizon. Verizon must also send a notice to the Commission, referencing this Order, stating that
is has given a refund or credit to Complainant. 16 If Metropolitan Telecommunications has not
received the reimbursement required from Verizon within 45 days of the release of this Order,
Metropolitan Telecommunications must notify the Commission and Complainant accordingly.
Metropolitan Telecommunications also must notify the Complainant of his or her right to pursue
a claim against Verizon for a refund of all charges paid to Verizon.17
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 complaint filed by
Complainant against Verizon IS GRANTED.
7.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 64.1170(b) of the
Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 64.1170(b), that Verizon must forward to Metropolitan
Telecommunications an amount equal to 150% of all charges paid by the subscriber along with
copies of any telephone bills issued from the company to the Complainant within ten (10) days of
the release of this order.


12
Verizon's Response to Informal Complaint No. IC 12-S3319579, received March 9, 2012.
13
See 47 C.F.R 64.1120-64.1130.
14
If Complainant is unsatisfied with the resolution of this complaint, 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 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
Complainant. See 47 C.F.R. 1.719.
15
See 47 C.F.R 64.1170(b)(1)(2).
16
See 47 C.F.R. 64.1170(c).
17
See 47 C.F.R. 64.1170(e).
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1611

8.
IT IS FURTHERED 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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