Maine Public Utilities Commission
Public Utilities Commission
242 State Street
Augusta, Maine 04333-0018
Website: http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/, Email: email@example.com
CONTACT: Derek Davidson, (207) 287-1596, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 4, 2004
Maine PUC Obtains Refunds
Assists customers who were “slammed”
AUGUSTA, MAINE – The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced today that it has assisted more than 100 customers obtain credits totaling over $15,000 in fraudulent long distance telephone charges. Customers incurred the fraudulent charges when their telephone service was “slammed” by LCR Communications (LCR), a long-distance telecommunications provider.
“Slamming” occurs when someone’s telephone service is changed without the customer’s knowledge or consent. In 2003, the Commission’s Consumer Assistance Division (CAD) began receiving complaints from customers who said their telephone service had been changed to LCR without their permission. The CAD’s investigation determined that LCR failed to obtain customer authorization for the carrier changes. Carriers are required to retain proof of customer authorization for a carrier change, which is often in the form of a third party verification (TPV). LCR provided the CAD with copies of recorded TPVs as proof of customer authorization. However, customers said the voice heard on the TPV was not theirs, nor did they recognize the voice, nor was the date of birth on the TPV theirs. Customers also said they never agreed to change their service to LCR and had never heard of LCR before its charges appeared on their local telephone bill.
While reviewing the TPVs provided by LCR, the CAD also found that the TPVs contained telephone numbers belonging to a variety of businesses and individuals in addition to the customer who was the subject of the TPV. Upon further investigation, the CAD determined that these customers also had their interstate long distance service switched to LCR without their authorization. In addition, the majority of these customers were unaware that their interstate long distance service had been switched to LCR until notified by the CAD. The CAD was able to obtain refunds of these unlawful charges for all customers who filed slamming complaints against LCR.
Slamming is a violation of state and federal laws, as well as of rules of the PUC and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The PUC has jurisdiction over slamming complaints involving local service (dial tone) and intrastate toll service. The FCC has jurisdiction over interstate and international toll service. While the PUC can help consumers whose interstate telephone service was changed without their authorization to obtain a refund, it does not have the authority to impose a fine against carriers for interstate slams—that authority rests with the FCC. The PUC has provided the FCC with copies of its files on these consumer complaints.
Consumers who would like more information about slamming and how to protect themselves against slamming should read a recent consumer bulletin from the Public Utilities Commission available at www.maine.gov/mpuc/CAD/BulletinSlamming40616.pdf or by calling the PUC Consumer Assistance Division toll-free at 1-800-452-4699. Consumers who believe they have been slammed should file a complaint with the PUC either on-line or by calling the toll-free number.
All PUC News Releases may be found on our website at: http://www.state.me.us/mpuc/newsreleases2004.htm
To arrange an interview with Chairman Welch or Commissioners Diamond or Reishus, please contact Phillip Lindley at 207-287-1598 or by e-mail at email@example.com. The Commission’s website may be accessed through the Maine School and Library Network at all public libraries in Maine.