FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
News media information 202/418-0500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
March 2, 2000
NEWS MEDIA CONTACTS:|
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 million forfeiture on Brittan Communications International, Inc. (BCI), for violation of the FCC's rules against slamming. Slamming is the illegal practice of switching consumers' preferred telephone carrier without their consent. This forfeiture follows a $2 million forfeiture imposed on Long Distance Direct, Inc. on February 17, 2000 for slamming and cramming violations, and a $1.36 million imposed on Amer-I-Net Services Corporation on February 9, 2000 for slamming violations.
In issuing its Notice of Apparent Liability for forfeiture (NAL), the FCC found that BCI violated the Communications Act and FCC rules by switching the long distance service of 16 customers without their consent. Twelve of the violations involve BCI's use of forged authorization forms, or ``letters of agency'' (LOAs), to effectuate the unauthorized changes.
The FCC received 254 written consumer complaints alleging slamming by BCI during a seven-month period. Several complainants stated that the LOAs used by BCI contained forged signatures, incorrect zip codes and wrong addresses, some of which were allegedly obtained during a automobile promotion. Other complainants asserted that BCI had switched their long-distance service based on a LOA signed with the name of a complete stranger.
BCI contested two forged LOAs through the use of a handwriting expert, but did not deny that it had substituted itself for the long-distance carriers preferred by the remaining 14 consumers. In addition, BCI claimed that the forfeitures were excessive in light of past Commission precedent. BCI also contended that it should not be liable because of its alleged voluntary efforts to avoid slamming consumers.
In its forfeiture order, the FCC elected not to impose any forfeiture with respect to one of the two contested forgery complaints, and elected to reduce the other by half. However, the FCC rejected the remaining defenses, finding that none of the slammed consumers had agreed to be switched to BCI's service. The FCC further noted that it has previously found forgery to be particularly egregious and will continue to impose a higher forfeiture amount for slamming violations involving forgery. Moreover, the FCC was not persuaded that BCI's alleged remedial measures warranted reduction of the forfeiture amount. The FCC ultimately found BCI liable for $1 million.
BCI is a privately held company headquartered in Houston, Texas. The consumers slammed by BCI that are the subject of this forfeiture action reside in Wyoming, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
Action by the Commission March 2, 2000, by Order of Forfeiture (FCC 00-71). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell, and Tristani.
File No. ENF-98-10.
|Enforcement Bureau Contact:||
John Winston at (202) 418-7450
Cynthia Bryant at (202) 418-8164