FCC fines for unauthorized carrier changes and consumer billing

Sean Donelan sean at donelan.com
Fri Apr 23 15:43:38 UTC 2021

The FCC has a poor record of actually collecting money from Notices of 
Apparent Liability (i.e. fines).  There are flaws in the FCC notification 
rules, but it does have some rules requiring indpendent verification of 
carrier changes.

FCC Fines Tele Circuit $4,145,000 for Cramming & Slamming Violations


FCC fines Tele Circuit Network Corporation $4,145,000 for switching 
consumers from their preferred carrier to Tele Circuit without permission 
and adding unauthorized charges to consumers' bill

In this Order, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) 
adopts the findings in the Notice of Apparent Liability (Tele Circuit 
Notice or Notice) that Tele Circuit Network Corporation (Tele Circuit or 
Company) engaged in slamming and cramming, made misrepresentations to 
consumers, and violated a Commission order by failing to produce certain 
information and documents relating to the Company’s business practices. 
The Company’s misconduct  harmed elderly and infirm consumers, in some 
cases leaving them without telephone service for extended periods of 
time—with Tele Circuit refusing to reinstate service until the crammed 
charges were paid in full. These practices violated sections 201(b) and 
258 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act), and section
64.1120 of the Commission’s rules. After reviewing Tele Circuit’s response 
to the Notice, we decline to find that the Company violated section 
1.17(a)(2) of the Commission’s rules and reduce the proposed penalty by 
$1,178,322, and therefore impose a forfeiture of $4,145,000.

In particular, Tele Circuit did not provide proof that the complainants 
listed in the LOI authorized Tele Circuit to switch their long distance 
carrier. In response to the LOI, Tele Circuit did produce some 
third-party verification recordings,31 which are supposed to provide 
evidence that customers assented to changing their long distance service 
from their existing carriers to Tele Circuit. However, some 
complainants who listened to the recordings alleged that the third-party 
verifications were falsified. In all, the Bureau reviewed more than 100 
written consumer complaints, contacted numerous complainants, obtained
substantial documentary evidence (including copies of consumer telephone 
bills), listened to third-partyverification recordings, and received data 
from consumers’ carriers.

  Tele Circuit switched the telephone service of 24 consumers without 
verified authorization to do so, in violation of section 258 of the Act 
and section 64.1120 of the Commission’s rules.


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