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Slamming is the illegal practice of changing a consumer’s telephone service without permission. Before a telephone company can place an order to switch the telephone service of a customer, the company must have the agreement of the customer. When a customer agrees to switch long distance service, the long distance carrier must obtain the customer’s agreement and authorization to switch using one of the following methods:

  • A written or electronic Letter of Agency (LOA) from the customer. Any written or electronic LOA used to confirm a telemarketing order must include: (1) the subscriber's billing name and address, (2) each telephone number to be covered by the order to change the subscriber's telephone company, (3) a statement that the subscriber intends to change from his or her current telephone company to this new company, (4) a statement that the subscriber designates this new carrier to act as the agent for this change, and (5) a statement that the subscriber understands that there may be a charge for this change. It must also be separate from any promotional material - like prizes, contests, and forms - that come with it.

    The LOA provided by the carrier must be limited strictly to authorizing a change in telephone carrier, and it must be clearly identified as an LOA authorizing the change. The LOA must be written in clear language, and the print must be of sufficient size and readable style, generally comparable in type style and size to any promotional materials, and must make clear to the consumer that the document, when signed, would change his or her telephone carrier.

    Only the name of the telephone carrier that will set the consumer's rates can appear on the letter of authorization. The LOA must also contain full translations if it uses more than one language.

    NOTE: Advertising promotions that use checks can incorporate an LOA but must meet specific guidelines. A check must contain the necessary information to make it a negotiable instrument and shall not contain any other promotional language or material. The carrier must place the required LOA language near the signature line on the back of the check. In addition, the carrier must print on the front of the check, in easily readable, bold-faced type, a notice that the consumer’s signature will authorize a change in his or her telephone carrier.

  • Provide a toll-free number that the consumer can call to confirm the order to switch telephone companies.
  • Have an independent third party verify the customer's authorization to switch.

If you feel that you have been slammed, call the slamming carrier and tell them that you want the problem fixed. If you have not paid them, tell them that you will not pay for the first 30 days of service. Call the authorized company (local or long distance) to inform them of the slam. Tell them that you want to be reinstated to the same calling plan you had before the slam.

You may also file a complaint with the Consumer Affairs Division. If we determine that your long distance service was changed without your authorization and you have not paid the bill of the carrier that slammed you, you do not have to pay anyone for long distance service for the first 30 days after being slammed. This means you do not have to pay either your authorized telephone company (the company you actually chose to provide service) or the slamming company. You must pay any charges for service beyond 30 days to your authorized company, but at that company’s rates, not the slammer’s rates. If you have paid your phone bill and then discover that you have been slammed, the slamming company must pay your authorized company 150% of the charges it received from you. Out of this amount, your authorized company will then reimburse you 50% of the charges you paid to the slammer. For example, if you were charged $100 by the slamming company, that company will have to give your authorized company $150, and you will receive $50 as a reimbursement.

How can you avoid being slammed? Be a smart consumer.

  • Always examine your phone bill immediately and thoroughly.
  • Be aware of the ways in which companies are legally permitted to change your telephone service. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission requires carriers to obtain your clear permission before such a change.
  • A carrier may also solicit your telephone business over the phone or electronically. Carriers must then verify your authorization by asking you to confirm your order by some means, such as calling a toll-free number used exclusively for this purpose. A carrier may also employ an independent third party to verify your request to change telephone carriers.

RSA 374:28-a Slamming Prohibited


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