At its July 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) designed to strengthen and expand consumer protections against “slamming” and “cramming.” Slamming is the unauthorized change of a consumer’s preferred service provider, while cramming is the placement of unauthorized charges on a consumer’s telephone bill.  As we reported in our Open Meeting preview, slamming and cramming represent a major source of consumer frustration and a common focus of recent FCC enforcement actions. The NPRM is the agency’s first attempt in five years to strengthen the rules around slamming and cramming – and is the first attempt to specifically define cramming in its rules.  Moreover, the agency asks whether these rules should apply to wireless carriers (especially prepaid wireless) and to VoIP providers, potentially expanding the reach of the rules significantly.  Wireless carriers and interconnected VoIP providers should therefore pay close attention to the potential compliance obligations and marketing restrictions proposed in the NPRM.

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Since 1998, the FCC has adjudicated individual consumer claims that the consumer’s telecommunications services were switched without authorization (aka "slamming").  These adjudications often are released by the dozens and use a consistent format and language.  The most recent batch of such releases confirms that, when it comes to orders confirmed by third party verification ("TPV"), the Bureau employs a literal interpretation of the content requirements for verification.

Continue reading to see examples of the Bureau’s literal interpretations.


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