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    Edelman, Combs, Latturner, & Goodwin, LLC

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    Chicago, IL 60603

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    Phone: 312-739-4200
    Fax: 312-419-0379


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    FCC FINES COMPANIES $11 MILLION FOR UNAUTHORIZED CHARGES ON CONSUMER BILLS, DECEPTIVE MARKETING, AND ILLEGAL CARRIER CHANGES Companies Impersonated Consumers’ Existing Carriers


    WASHINGTON, September 15, 2016 – The Federal Communications Commission today
    announced $11 million in fines against three related long distance carriers for “cramming”
    unauthorized charges onto consumer telephone bills, “slamming” consumers by switching their
    preferred phone carriers without authorization, deceptive marketing, and violating the FCC’s
    truth-in-billing rules. The companies, Central Telecom Long Distance, Consumer Telcom, and
    U.S. Telecom Long Distance, are run as one operation by Data Integration Systems, Inc. The
    FCC is committed to combating abusive practices that result in telephone consumers paying for
    services they never requested or received and expending significant time and effort to seek to
    reverse the unauthorized charges and services.
    “This isn’t rocket science: no consumer should be charged for phone services that they canceled
    or never requested in the first place,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “Today’s
    fines make clear that we will aggressively prosecute those who ‘slam,’ ‘cram,’ or otherwise abuse
    consumers by unlawfully charging them for services they didn’t want or request.”
    During this investigation, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reviewed over 260 consumer
    complaints about the three California-based companies. Many of the complaints were submitted
    by or on behalf of consumers who had neither heard of the companies nor intended to sign up for
    their services.

    Operating as a single enterprise, the companies’ telemarketers falsely claimed that they were
    calling on behalf of consumers’ real telephone carriers about a change in existing service. The
    companies then misused consumers’ answers to switch their long distance carriers to one of the
    companies. When customers realized what had occurred and returned to their preferred carriers,
    these companies continued to charge consumers a recurring monthly fee. The companies also
    failed to clearly and plainly describe the charges included in their customer bills, as required by
    the FCC’s rules.