Avoiding Phone Slamming

Phone slamming, and lately domain slamming, have become popular ways to get subscribers to switch phone services and/or Internet providers without their consent.

Phone slamming is the illegal practice of changing a subscriber’s phone service without their consent. Now you might be wondering how this could happen, that your phone service suddenly goes to another company who starts sending you bills. You didn’t change phone service providers and didn’t tell anyone else it was OK to do that either.

While slamming has been around since the industry got deregulated in the mid-80’s, the practice has started to get totally out of hand. This is largely due to the cut-throat competition for customers.

At one time the competition only consisted of price wars that customers benefited from in droves. Now sneakier things are happening, and customers in effect find their phone service unceremoniously hijacked.

Here is how slamming works. Local U.S. carriers have long been the ones responsible for distributing phone numbers. This has been the case since AT&T got divided into local and long distance carriers – thanks again to deregulation.

Orders to change a long distance carrier would be given to them and then the local carrier made the change. The usual scheme/scam was carried out by a phone company employee (e.g. an outbound telemarketer) who would hand in an order to change carriers to the local exchange carrier without the customer’s approval.

Another even more underhanded technique is to get customers to participate in a survey or enter some type of contest. If the customer took the time to read the entry forms or the survey, they would find that the small print states it’s really an authorization to switch phone services to a different carrier.

So far, we’ve talked about the “traditional” method of slamming and what it meant. What has started to happen in the U.S. though, is that the telecommunications market has expanded so rapidly and the choices of local long distance and local providers are so plentiful, slamming for local services has started as well.

It isn’t just long distance land line services being slammed for either. Reportedly, there have been cases of slamming for cell phone providers and voice mail. It seems like a scheme a day is born to make money.

To avoid situations like this start carefully inspecting any bills you receive from your local phone service provider to make sure it is who you think it is. If you have questions or suspect wrongdoings, take action.

Daniel Wannamaker is a board certified criminal law specialist and has 24 years of criminal trial experience with proven results as a Dallas criminal defense lawyer practicing in Austin criminal defense and Houston Texas. To learn more, visit http://www.wannamakerlaw.com.

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