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Federal Communications Commission
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

October 17, 2000

John Winston (202) 418-7450


Washington, D.C. - Today the Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) released an order adopting a consent decree between the Bureau and Bell Atlantic Communications, Inc. d/b/a Verizon Long Distance (Verizon). Today's action terminates a Bureau investigation into possible violations of Commission rules designed to ensure that carriers obtain and maintain independent proof that consumers have authorized changes to their selection of telecommunications service providers. In the agreement, Verizon agrees to make a voluntary contribution of $250,000 to the United States Treasury and to take significant steps to ensure that it properly conducts third party verification of consumer authorizations for carrier changes and retains the records of such verification.

The Commission's rules require telecommunications carriers to conduct third party verification (TPV) of consumer authorizations to change their telecommunications service providers and to retain records regarding such verification for a period of two years. Verizon had voluntarily disclosed to the Bureau that it could not locate TPV records for numerous consumers whom it had switched to Verizon's long distance service in New York State.

In addition to making a voluntary contribution of $250,000 to the United States Treasury, Verizon has already taken or agrees to take a number of steps to correct and prevent reoccurrence of the problems, pursuant to the terms of the consent decree. These steps include, among other things: 1) contacting consumers for whom it could not locate their TPV records to provide a credit for long distance charges up to the date of the completed TPV or the date of the consumer's stated desire to switch to another carrier; 2) holding monthly performance review meetings with its TPV contractor; 3) enhancing its ordering systems to prevent completion of an order for service before TPV has been obtained; 4) instituting additional oversight mechanisms for its employees and TPV contractors; and 5) reporting to the Enforcement Bureau on compliance with all the provisions of the consent decree.

Although the consent decree terminates the Bureau's investigation of this matter, the Bureau reserves the right to investigate and take enforcement action against Verizon if the Commission receives consumer complaints or other information indicating that Verizon may have failed to obtain consumer authorization for carrier changes (otherwise known as "slamming"), in violation of section 258 of the Communications Act and the Commission's related rules and orders.

Action by the Chief, Enforcement Bureau, October 16, 2000, by Order (DA 00- 2341).

File No. EB-00-TC-053

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Enforcement Bureau Contacts: John Winston at (202) 418-7450 or Cynthia Bryant at (202) 418-8164.