'Slamming' Fine May Total $1.4M

Federal regulators proposed their second largest "slamming" fine $1.36 million against a New Jersey company accused of switching people to its long-distance service without permission.

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday accused Amer-I-Net Services Corp. of violating the agency's anti-slamming rules by using forged forms to authorize a change in a person's long-distance carrier. In some cases, forms were signed by people unrelated and unknown to the affected customers.

The Farmingdale, N.J., company has 30 days to either pay the proposed fine or make a case to the FCC as to why the fine should be reduced or not imposed. The company's counsel, Patrick Crocker, said Amer-I-Net has not decided on a course of action. "We need to review the FCC's documents first," which the company just received, he said.

The action comes one day after the FCC proposed another large slamming fine - $1.12 million - against a Texas company.

The FCC's largest slamming fine - more than $5 million - was imposed in April against The Fletcher Cos. That group of companies also lost their operating authority, an unprecedented revocation by the FCC in penalizing a company for violating its rules against slamming.

The FCC said the 18 people allegedly slammed by Amer-I-Net live in Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Illinois.

The FCC has received 16,500 slamming complaints this year.

Over the last four years, the FCC has issued a total of $8.5 million in fines and settlements involving slamming.