MOUNT VERNON — Customers who suddenly notice their telephone bill is much higher than usual, or who have problems making long-distance calls, may find they have been a victim of slamming.
“Slamming is the process of another company coming and changing your long-distance provider,” said Stephanie Meisse, spokeswoman for Embarq.
To slam someone, all that is needed is a person or business’ name and phone number. The slammer will then call the telephone company and ask that the long-distance carrier be switched. Customers need to check their bill carefully each month, to make sure no unauthorized change has occurred.
Meisse said Embarq does third-party billing for other long-distance carriers, but the customer’s long-distance provider is printed on the phone bill. If a change is made, she said, a notice will appear on the bill stating the change.
Meisse said the agreement to change carriers can be verbal or written.
“Sometimes, if you fill out a sweepstakes form, if you don’t read the fine print, sometimes there’s an agreement to switch [carriers],” she said.
Other methods used to slam businesses or individuals are product coupons or other promotional offers.
Meisse said if a customer has been slammed, they should call the company and tell a representative they never agreed to a change in long-distance carriers.
“Most of the time they will give you a credit,” she said, “because they don’t want any trouble.”
She asks that the customer call Embarq as well.
“We will end our relationship with that company if they have slammed on purpose,” she said.
Other precautions customers can take include not returning calls to numbers left on a pager or answering maching that they don’t recognize, and don’t provide information over the phone or in writing. Call your phone company to confirm that the caller and purpose of the call is legitimate.