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It is important that you check your phone bill very carefully. If you see charges from a long distance phone company that you are unfamiliar with, or that you did not choose, you may have been a victim of "slamming".
Slamming can occur several ways, none of them legal. You may receive a call from a long distance telephone company that is not your company of choice. They will try to get you to switch over to their services by offering you lower rates, free phone minutes, or in some cases a check. You may tell the company representative that you are not interested in switching, but you soon find out that your carrier has been switched anyway. In some instances, you will receive a letter from your current long distance company telling you that they are no longer your carrier and they wish to confirm that this was your choice. You may also receive a "welcome package" in the mail. This will include a letter and information from a carrier welcoming you to a service that you did not request. In other instances, you may not notice the change for several months during which time you will be paying your monthly long distance charges to the company who slammed you.
Another way you may be a slamming victim, is by filling out an entry form for a free trip or a new car at the mall, or another public location. The form will ask for your name, address and phone number so that they can contact you if you win. On the bottom of the form, in very small print, it may say that by signing the form you are agreeing to switch your long distance phone service to XYZ company.
If you become a victim of telephone slamming, you should follow the following steps to correct the situation:
1. Immediately call your local telephone company to report the problem. They will switch you back to your original carrier and credit your account for any switching fees that may have been placed on your account. While you have your local phone company on the line you can request that they put a PIC freeze on your long distance carrier to help protect you from becoming a victim of slamming again. This means that your local phone company cannot change your long distance carrier (PIC) without your consent.
2. FCC regulations stipulate that you must pay no more for your long distance calls than you would have for equivalent service provided by your chosen carrier. In some instances your long distance carrier will re-rate calls for you. If they will not do it for you, you may be able to calculate what the calls should have cost you and deduct the excessive amount from your bill. If you are billed for long distance through your local phone company, ask them how they want you to handle the billing.
3. File a complaint with the FCC, against the company that slammed you.
You can find out more information on the FCC by visiting their home page at: www.fcc.gov