Telecommunications:

Telephone Slamming and Its Harmful Effects

T-OSI-98-11: Published: Apr 23, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 23, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the results of its investigation on telephone slamming and its harmful effects, focusing on: (1) what entities engage in intentional telephone slamming--a form of telecommunications fraud and abuse; (2) the process by which providers defraud customers; and (3) what federal and state regulatory entities and the telecommunications industry are doing about it.

GAO noted that: (1) all three types of long-distance providers--facility-based carriers, switching resellers, and switchless resellers--have economic incentives to engage in slamming; (2) switchless resellers, which have the most to gain and the least to lose, slam most frequently; (3) intentional slamming is accomplished in deceptive ways, such as by misleading consumers and falsifying or forging documents; (4) the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state regulatory agencies, and the industry each rely on the others to be the main forces in the fight against slamming; (5) thus, few of their efforts are extensive; (6) to illustrate, the FCC has adopted some antislaming measures but effectively does little to protect consumers; (7) most states have some antislamming measures, but their extent varies widely; (8) industry's measures appear to be more market-driven than consumer-oriented; and (9) in fact, the most effective antislamming measure appears to be one that consumers can take--contacting their local exchange carrier and freezing their long-distance provider from unwanted change.

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