The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau has posted a consumer alert on what has been known as “fat finger dialing”. This is a new scheme that can result in consumers paying several times more than expected when making collect calls. The scheme goes something like this: You place a collect call from a public phone or payphone, intending to use a service like 1-800-CALL-ATT or 1-800-COLLECT. But you misspell or hit an incorrect button when dialing. You accidentally dial something like 1-800-CALLLAT. You get connected to the party you wished to call, but the phone company that connects you is not the one you thought you were using.
Instead, it is a company that secured 800 numbers similar to well-known ones (i.e., a company secures the number 1-800-CALLLAT). The company is banking on the possibility that you might accidentally misdial your intended number. If this happens, you are probably unaware you are using a different phone carrier than the one you intended to use because you don’t know you misdialed. Often, the company won’t identify itself to you or the person receiving the collect call before connecting the call.
If you suspect you’re a victim of this scheme, contact the phone company that charged you for the call in question. The company’s number should be listed on your phone bill.
The Federal Access Charge (also known as the Subscriber Line Charge) is a charge billed to the users of residential and business telephone lines by local telephone companies across the United States. This charge is mandated by the FCC to be used by local telephone companies to insure that all Americans have adequate and affordable access to telephone service, and to offset the high cost of providing phone service to consumers in sparsely populated areas or regions where natural barriers make phone service difficult. The telephone company does not gain any revenue from the Federal Access Charge increase; it just recovers some of its costs.
Slamming is any practice that changes a consumer’s long distance provider without the customer’s knowledge or consent. The FCC’s policies and rules prohibit slamming and the FCC enforces these rules through investigations of individual complaints and patterns of slamming practices.
What to do if you are slammed:
You may “freeze” your long distance so that changes cannot be made without your permission. This is an optional service at no charge for your protection. Contact American Broadband’s Customer Service Center at 1-888-262-2661 for more information.
An individual commits theft of service if they use another person’s telephone number or telephone calling card to charge calls without permission, or by any other means of deception, fraud or falsification to avoid payment of telephone services. The penalty is a maximum of six months imprisonment or a fine of $1,000, or both.
Some companies offer a variety of informational services using phone numbers beginning with “900”. There is a charge for calls to these numbers. The content and pricing for these calls are established by the company providing the service.
If you have a complaint or dispute about “900” billing, you have 60 days to dispute the charges. Services that contain illegal or sexually explicit material are not allowed. Your telephone service cannot be disconnected for disputing pay-per-call services, but future access to “900” numbers can be involuntarily blocked for failure to pay legitimate charges.
Cramming is the submission or inclusion of unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges for products or services that appear on your local telephone bill. Best Practice Guidelines have been developed and are being implemented to assist local phone companies in dealing with this problem.
What to do if you are crammed:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rules pertaining to the information that we have concerning the services we bill to you, known as the Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI). This includes such things as the type and quality of the services subscribed to, the equipment and facilities used, and the numbers, dates, times and duration of the calls you place.
American Broadband has a policy in place, as allowed by the FCC, where we consider the all of our customers have consented to the use of their CPNI by us, our affiliated companies and join venture partners providing communications related services.
This allows us to give you more personalized service and offer to you the products and services that may be of most use to you or provide cost savings. You have the right under federal law to restrict the use of CPNI data, and we have a responsibility to protect your data. Your restriction of use of your CPNI data will remain valid until you contact us in writing. In two years, we will provide you with another form. A copy of the form can be accessed here.
After two years, American Broadband will provide you with another CPNI notice. For more information concerning CPNI, please contact our Customer Care Center.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1951 (TCPA) was enacted to reduce unsolicited and harassing telephone calls. The law provides that:
The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Protection Act was enacted to address abusive telemarketing practices. The law provides: