FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
February 9, 2000
News Media Contact:|
Rosemary Kimball (202) 418-0500.
John Winston (202) 418-7450
Washington, D.C. -- Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an order imposing a $1.36 million forfeiture on Amer-I-Net Services Corp., known as Amer-I-Net, for violations of the FCC's rules against slamming. Slamming is the illegal practice of switching consumers' preferred telephone carrier without their consent. The forfeiture follows the FCC's receipt of hundreds of consumer complaints regarding Amer-I-Net. The Commission has found that Amer-I-Net violated the Communications Act and FCC rules by switching the long-distance service of 18 customers without their consent. Sixteen of the violations indicate that Amer-I-Net relied on forged authorization forms, or ``letters of agency'' (LOAs), to effectuate the unauthorized changes.
The FCC received 251 consumer complaints alleging slamming by Amer-I-Net during a nine-month period. Numerous complainants stated that the LOAs relied upon by Amer-I-Net listed the wrong birth dates and/or incorrect addresses. Other complainants asserted that Amer-I-Net had switched their long-distance service based on a LOA signed with the name of a complete stranger.
Amer-I-Net did not deny that it had substituted itself for the long-distance carriers preferred by these consumers. Instead, Amer-I-Net claimed that the FCC had not proved that the consumers had not agreed to be switched to Amer-I-Net's service. Amer-I-Net also contended that it should not be liable because of its alleged voluntary efforts to avoid slamming consumers.
In its forfeiture order, the FCC rejected these defenses, finding that none of the slammed consumers had agreed to be switched to Amer-I-Net's service. Moreover, despite FCC staff requests for information, Amer-I-Net had never provided any evidence that its alleged voluntary compliance program ever existed. The FCC therefore adopted the $1.36 million forfeiture that it had proposed in the Notice of Apparent Liability for forfeiture.
Amer-I-Net is a privately held company headquartered in Farmingdale, New Jersey. The consumers slammed by Amer-I-Net that are the subject of this forfeiture action reside in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Action by the Commission February 2, 2000, by Order of Forfeiture (FCC 00-31). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell, and Tristani.
File No. ENF-98-11.
Enforcement Bureau Contact: John Winston at (202) 418-7450
Telecommunications Consumers Division Contact: William Davenport at (202) 418-1034