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.
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.
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;
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.