FCC hits long-distance phone carriers with $11M fine

FCC hits long-distance phone carriers with $11M fine
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is fining three long-distance phone call carriers a total of $11 million.

The FCC on Thursday said the three companies, Central Telecom Long Distance, Consumer Telcom and U.S. Telecom Long Distance, are being penalized for " 'cramming' unauthorized charges onto consumer telephone bills, 'slamming' consumers by switching their preferred phone carriers without authorization, deceptive marketing, and violating the FCC’s truth-in-billing rules."

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“This isn’t rocket science: no consumer should be charged for phone services that they canceled or never requested in the first place,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc in a statement to The Hill. “Today’s fines make clear that we will aggressively prosecute those who ‘slam,’ ‘cram,’ or otherwise abuse consumers by unlawfully charging them for services they didn’t want or request.”

The FCC says the companies called consumers and falsely claimed to represent their actual carriers, tricking them into switching to their own service.

It isn’t the first time the FCC has fined long-distance carriers this year to crack down on deceptive practices. In February, the agency sought a $30 million fine against four other long-distance carriers for a similar “cramming” scheme targeting consumers with Hispanic last names.

Despite the agency’s intentions of protecting consumers, though, there are questions about enforcement. A Politico report at the end of last year found that the agency rarely collects on its fines