For the second consecutive year, the FCC has increased the fines it proposes for slamming and related violations.  On January 24, 2014, the FCC proposed to fine U.S. Telecom Long Distance, Inc. (USTLD) over $5 million for deceptive marketing and billing practices.  The USTLD Notice of Apparent Liability alleges that the company engaged in (1) misleading marketing practices, (2) slamming (unlawful switching of presubscribed carriers without authorization), (3) cramming (unlawful billing of services without authorization) and (4) Truth-in-Billing rule violations.  Although the NAL addresses practices that are not new, the NAL is noteworthy in its use of increased fines (called “upward adjustments” in FCC enforcement practice).  As discussed below, the FCC proposes substantial upward adjustments for “extensive violations” and for violations that cause “substantial harm” to consumers and the elderly.  These upward adjustments for slamming violations appear to be part of a trend to increase the overall size of FCC enforcement actions in recent years.
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