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What is Slamming?

Long distance slamming.  How to deal with telephone slamming.  How to stop telephone slamming.

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      What Is Slamming?

      Slamming  is the changing of your PIC  code (primary long distance carrier code) without your knowledge or consent.   PIC codes are maintained by your LOCAL telephone company, who may change codes  when requested to do so by a long distance company.

      A slam may  be caused by an unscrupulous long distance company, or by an inadvertent data  entry error.

      How Do I Know If I've Been Slammed

      You can  call 1-700-555-4141 - this is a free call which will announce your long  distance carrier according to your PIC selection.  If it changes, you'll  know you've been slammed.

      Usually, however, you won't  know you've been slammed until youl receive charges from a company other than  your normal long distance company, and these charges will almost always appear  as part of your LOCAL phone bill.

      Also, these charges will  usually be at a higher (often, MUCH higher) rate than you normally pay.

      What To Do If You've Been Slammed

      1. Call the long distance company who has slammed you - their number is listed  on their portion of your LOCAL bill.

      Tell them they have changed  your long distance selection without your consent, and ask them to refund  the charges.

      At this point  you will normally receive one of two responses, one reasonable, one unreasonable .

      1A. If they are reasonable, they will offer to re-rate the calls back to your normal rate - if they make this offer, tell them the correct rate, and ask them to confirm the amount of the credit.

      In all cases, make a note  of the person's name with whom you spoke, their phone number and extension,  and any amount of credit which was offered.  Do NOT pay any of their charges  (see   below) until the credit is received.

      1B. If they are unreasonable, they will probably claim that you authorized their  service, and that you owe them the charges.

      In this case, insist on  speaking with a supervisor, and get the name/number/extension of the supervisor  or representative you speak with.

      Tell them that until they  can show proof that you've authorized their service, their bill will remain  unpaid, and demand that they remove it from your local bill.

      Further, tell them that  you're writing a letter to the FCC and to your state public utilities commission  reporting their slamming activities.  The address for the FCC complaint  is;
      FCC's Common Carrier Bureau
      Enforcement Division
      Consumer Complaints
      Mail Stop 1600A2
      2025 M St. N.W.
      Washington, DC 20554

      Whether you take the trouble  to write a letter or not is not important (at least as far as getting your account  credited goes), but let the supervisor know that you have the address noted  above - the threat of an FCC complaint is often enough to convince the slammer  to quickly credit your account in the hope that you won't go to the trouble  of reporting them.

      2. Call your LOCAL phone company. Ask  them to switch your PIC back to your correct long distance carrier.

      Tell them you were slammed,  and ask them to waive the PIC change fees that they normally charge for each  PIC change (you will have two PIC changes for each line).

      Also, tell them the outcome  of your conversation with the slamming long distance company, and ask them to  note in your record the fact that you will either pay the disputed bill once  a credit is received, or that you are requesting that the disputed portion of  your bill be totally removed from your local phone account.

      Make sure that they make  notes to this effect on your account!

      Again, record the name/number/extension  of the representative with whom you speak.

      Consider ordering a PIC  freeze on your line.

      How  To Prevent Slamming

      The only  easy defense you have is to request that your LOCAL phone company place  a "PIC freeze" on your line.

      This is a free  service, and means that no request by a long distance carrier, even one you  have authorized, made to your local carrier to change your PIC code, will be  honored, until you directly contact your LOCAL carrier yourself to make this  request.

      Although a PIC freeze does  make changing long distance carriers more difficult for you, since you'll have  to call or sometimes write your LOCAL carrier, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

      Slamming You Can't Prevent

      You can  be slammed without your PIC being changed!

      This can easily happen if  a rebilling company who utilizes the same long distance carrier you currently  use slams you.

      In such a case, the PIC  doesn't change, and the underlying long distance carrier simply sends records  of long distance usage to the slamming company, who bills you (again, normally  as part of your LOCAL bill).

      In this case, you should  still follow the steps outlined above with the long distance and local company,  EXCEPT for the following; Contact  the underlying carrier and order them to cease sending your long distance records  to the slamming company, and to revert to the previous arrangement.

      When you speak with your  LOCAL company, there will not be a need to change your PIC back, since it has  not changed at all!Unfortunately,  there is probably nothing you can do to prevent this from happening.  You  could call the underlying carrier, and stipulate that the current billing arrangement  for your lines should not be changed without your direct authorization, but  I don't know of any long distance carriers who have systems in place to handle  or track this type of request.

Questions? Call 1-800-600-9174
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"Phone Bill Busters" - Nashville, TN