As of July 1, 1998, state law makes slamming illegal in Georgia. Slamming happens when a local or long distance telephone company switches your service provider without your knowledge or consent. Previously limited to long distance service, slamming is on the rise as competition expands to local service and local toll calling markets. The Georgia Public Service Commission may penalize a phone company up to $15,000 for each violation. Additionally, a penalty of $10,000 may be assessed for each day on which said violation(s) continues.
How To Prevent Slamming
- Never sign anything without reading it.
- Be wary of telemarketing calls. If you receive a phone call about long distance or local phone service, be sure to tell the caller that you only want to receive information or that you are not interested in receiving the company's service.
- Call your local service provider and request a "PIC" freeze on your account to minimize unauthorized changes.
- Be sure others in your home understand who is authorized to change phone service.
- Read your phone bill carefully each month and report unfamiliar charges to your local telephone company.
What to watch for?
Be wary of sales pitches. Telemarketers may tempt you to sign up for a contest promising big prizes. Your signature may be represented as an agreement to switch telephone carriers. Slammers also may promise children, housekeepers and other persons who answer your phone lower rates and better service if they switch. Sometimes service is changed without any customer contact.
How Does Slamming Occur?
There are many ways you may be unknowingly switched, including:
- Signing up to receive coupons for products or to enter sweepstakes without realizing that in the fine print, there is an agreement to switch carriers.
- Receiving calls from companies pretending to be your current carrier or from organizations conducting surveys. You may be asked questions that usually require a "yes" answer. These answers are taped and used later as proof that you authorized the switch.
- Asking for written information in response to a telephone solicitation. Sometimes if you do not specifically say that all you want is information, you are slammed.
- Failing to respond to negative option notices which may be considered junk mail. These notices serve as authorization to switch your service if they are not returned.
If You Have Been Slammed:
Call 1-700-555-4141 (toll free) to verify your long distance provider or call 1-(your area code)-700-4141 to verify your local toll provider.
Tell your local phone company that you did not request a change in your long distance service. Ask the company to reconnect you to your previous carrier and have unauthorized charges removed from your bill.
Call the company listed on your telephone bill as the service provider. Inform the company that caused the slam that you did not request its service, that you want it canceled immediately and that you will only pay the charge your preferred carrier would have imposed. If you have actually paid any charges billed by the carrier, inform the carrier that you are entitled to a refund unless the carrier can provide proof of your authorization for the carrier change, and you want all switching charges removed from your bill.
Call your preferred long distance carrier and ask to be reconnected with no "change charges." Contact the Georgia Public Service Commission, if the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction.
Georgia Public Service Commission
244 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
Fax: (404) 656-2341