Recent actions by the FCC reflect that the Commission is ramping up its enforcement activity related to consumer protection. Last week Verizon agreed to pay a record US$7.4 million to settle an FCC investigation related to the company’s treatment of consumer personal information, after the Commission alleged that Verizon improperly used the private information of millions of its customers in marketing campaigns without notice or permission. The FCC also issued a record setting Do-Not-Call action, settling an investigation with Sprint for US$7.5 million. Finally, the Commission released three enforcement actions in July totaling more than US$10 million in penalties for cramming and slamming violations. (“Cramming” occurs when a subscriber is billed for unauthorized charges, while “slamming” occurs when a customer’s long distance carrier is changed without permission.) The FCC is also bulking up its enforcement team, hiring several former prosecutors into key management positions.
If your company makes regular contacts with consumers, you must ensure that you have policies and procedures in place to call consumers only with appropriate consent. Also, if your company is subject to CPNI restrictions and has access to consumer calling records and details – information about the quantity, technical information type, destination, location, and amount of service a customer subscribes to – you should take proactive steps to ensure that company personnel properly handle CPNI. Finally, you must have safeguards in place related to the verification of new customer accounts and subscriber charges. If you are concerned that your company is not fully aware of or compliant with the Commission’s consumer-related rules, Squire Patton Boggs has the resources to help. Our team has significant experience practicing before the FCC, the Universal Service Administrative Company and the Federal Trade Commission, and our team of seasoned practitioners includes – among many others – a former FCC Chairman, a former Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and Media Bureau and a former Special Counsel to the Enforcement Bureau Chief.