FCC Fines Local Atlanta Carrier for ‘Slamming’ and ‘Cramming’

by Matt Klassen on July 31, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission has come down hard on regional telecom provider GPSPS, after receiving several hundred complaints over the Atlanta-based company’s shady practices. In a press release this week the FCC explained that it has fined GPSPS $9.065 million over multiple violations, including switching consumers’ long distance carriers without their authorization (a practice known as “slamming”), billing customers for unauthorized charges (a practice known as “cramming”) and falsifying evidence to government officials that all of this was authorized by consumers.

“Companies that engage in these practices betray consumers who trust that their telephone bills will contain only authorized charges,” said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau.  “Today’s announcement makes clear that the FCC will take strong action against those who switch consumers’ telephone carriers without authorization and then mislead the government to try to avoid detection.”

While granted GPSPS is certainly not alone in these sorts of underhanded operations, hopefully this stands as evidence of the FCC’s commitment to clean up both telecom and wireless industries that have run amuck.

While one might look at the whopping $100 million fine against AT&T several months back with surprise, upon reading the details of this local Atlanta telco I think most would actually think the company got off light.

According to reports, the Enforcement Bureau reviewed more than 150 complaints against the company that were filed either through the FCC, the FTC, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, or the Better Business Bureau, and compiled quite a case against a company that not only betrayed its customers’ trust, but it lied to regulators about it.

Consumers complained that GPSPS had switched their long distance service provider without informing them and without their consent, until they found new charges on their telephone bills. In most cases, the company refused to refund any of the unauthorized charges.

Instead what GPSPS did was fabricate voice recordings that “proved” the authorization process and that consumers had been duly informed of the switch and the charges. The company then submitted these fake recordings to support its defence.

Needless to say, GPSPS was caught in its deception and was punished with an almost $10 million fine, which I suppose is likely pretty steep for a local operator like that. But that said, what GPSPS has done here is deplorable, as not only did it steal money from customers and unlawfully change the terms of service, but it knew enough about it’s deceitful practices to actually fabricate an entire defence. All I can say is that in comparison to AT&T’s violations, this stands head and shoulders above on the consumer abuse scale, yet only garners a fraction of the punishment.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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