The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau has posted a consumer alert on what has become known as "fat finger dialing." This is a new scheme that can result in consumers paying several times more than expected when making collect calls. The scheme goes something like this: You place a collect call from a public phone or pay phone, intending to use a service like 1-800-CALL-ATT or 1-800-COLLECT. But you misspell or hit an incorrect button when dialing. You accidentally dial something like 1-800-CALLLAT. You get connected to the party you wished to call, but the phone company that connects you is not the one you thought you were using.
Instead, it is a company that secured 800 numbers similar to well-known ones (i.e., a company secures the number ("800-CALLLAT"). The company is banking on the possibility that you might accidentally mis-dial your intended number. If this happens, you are probably unaware you are using a different phone carrier than the one you intended to use because you don't know you mis-dialed. Often, the company won't identify itself to you or the person receiving the collect call before connecting the call.
If you suspect you're a victim of this scheme, contact the phone company that charged you for the call in question. The company's number should be listed on your phone bill.
The Federal Access Charge (also known as the Subscriber Line Charge), is a charge billed to the users of residential and business telephone lines by local telephone companies across the United States. This charge is mandated by the FCC, to be used by local telephone companies to insure that all Americans have adequate and affordable access to telephone service, and to offset the high cost of providing phone service to consumers in sparsely populated areas or regions where natural barriers make phone service difficult. The telephone company does not gain any revenue from the Federal Access Charge increase, it just recovers some of its costs.
Nebraska Telephone Assistance Program, "NTAP," assists qualifying low-income individuals with obtaining and keeping telephone services by lowering monthly service and connection rates. NTAP reduces the cost of local telephone service up to $13.50 per month. The discount will appear as a credit on your monthly telephone bill within 60 days of enrollment. The telephone bill must be in the name of, or contain the name of, the individual that qualifies for the program. NTAP provides reduced installation charges for phone service by 50% or $30.00, whichever is less. It also provides a deferred payment of installation charges without interest.
Who is eligible for NTAP?
Are you participating in one of the following programs? Medicaid Food Stamps Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Federal Public Housing Assistance Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) Kids Connection: SAM, MAC, EMAC If you answered YES, you are eligible to apply for the Nebraska Telephone Assistance Program (NTAP)
LIFELINE: Reduces the cost of local telephone service by $10 to $13.50 per month.
LINK-UP: Provides a one time connection fee credit of 50%, up to $30.00.
- Do you want your name listed in the telephone directory? If so, how would you like your name to appear?
What is your complete street address or legal address description? (Including apartment number, landlord and previous tenant, if known.)
Who is your current employer and what is your Social Security number?
Have you previously had telephone service? If so, when and with whom?
When do you want your service to begin?
Would you like residential or business service?
Who would you like to use as your long distance company?
Which custom calling features or packages would you like to order?
What is Slamming?
Slamming is any practice that changes a consumer's long distance provider without the customer's knowledge or consent. The FCC's policies and rules prohibit slamming and the FCC enforces these rules through investigations of individual complaints and patters of slamming practices.
What to do if you are slammed:
- Call American Broadband's Customer Service Center to have your long distance service switched back.
Call the company that slammed you and let them know that you will only pay the charges your preferred carrier would have imposed.
Call the long distance company that you were switched from and report that you were switched without your permission. Ask to be reconnected. You should not pay for this reconnection.
If the company that slammed you does not resolve your complaint, you may file a complaint with the Nebraska Public Service Commission (800-526-0017) or the FCC (888-225-5322).
You may "freeze" your long distance company so that changes cannot be made without your permission. This is an optional service at no charge for your protection. Contact American Broadband's Customer Service Center for more information.
How do I protect myself from annoyance calls?
A person violates Nebraska law if they use a telephone with the intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend any person. The use of indecent, lewd or obscene language or the making of a threat or lewd suggestion is a violation of the law. The maximum penalty is a fine of $500 or three months imprisonment, or both.
If you receive obscene, harassing or threatening calls:
Hang up at the first obscene word, or if the caller doesn't’t say anything.
Give no information (i.e. your name and address) until the caller is identified.
Advise your children not to give information to strangers. If you are not home have them say "Mother/Father can’t come to the phone now.”
If calls persist, call the police, sheriff or American Broadband's Customer Service Center.
Customer Originated Trace is available for only $2.50 each month.
What is theft of service?
An individual commits theft of service if they use another person’s telephone number or telephone calling card to charge calls without permission, or by any other means of deception, fraud or falsification to avoid payment of telephone services. The penalty is a maximum of six months imprisonment or a fine of $1000, or both.
What are 900 Numbers?
Some companies offer a variety of informational services using phone numbers beginning with "900.” There is a charge for calls to these numbers. The content and pricing for these calls are established by the company providing the service.
If you have a complaint or dispute about "900” billing, you have 60 days to dispute the charges. Services that contain illegal or sexually explicit material are not allowed. Your telephone service cannot be disconnected for disputing pay-per-call services, but future access to "900” numbers can be involuntarily blocked for failure to pay legitimate charges.
For more information or to arrange for "900” blocking contact us.
What is Cramming?
Cramming is the submission or inclusion of unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges for products or services that appear on your local telephone bill. Best Practice Guidelines have been developed and are being implemented to assist local phone companies in dealing with this problem. What to do if you are crammed:
- Call the American Broadband Customer Service Center to verify the charges.
Call the company that crammed you and let them know that you did not order the services you were charged for and that you want a refund.
If you are unable to resolve your complaint with the company that switched your service, you may file a complaint with the Nebraska Public Service Commission (1-800-526-0017) or the FCC (1-888-225-5322). For charges regarding non-telephone services (for example, "content” services like psychic hotlines) contact the Federal Trade Commission (202-326-3128).
What is the Customer Proprietary Network?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rules pertaining to the information that we have concerning the services we bill to you, know as Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI). This includes such things as the type and quantity of the services subscribed to, the equipment and facilities used, and the numbers, dates, times, and duration of the calls you place.
American Broadband has a policy in place, as allowed by the FCC, where we consider that all of our customers have consented to the use of their CPNI by us, our affiliated companies and joint venture partners providing communications related services.
This allows us to give you more personalized service and offer to you the products and services that may be of most use to you or provide cost savings. You have the right under federal law to restrict the use of CPNI data, and we have a responsibility to protect your data. Your restriction of this CPNI data will not affect the service or services to which you subscribe. This restriction of use of your CPNI data will remain valid until you contact us in writing or for two years, whichever comes first.
After two years, American Broadband will provide you with another CPNI notice. For more information concerning CPNI, please contact our Customer Care Center.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1951, was enacted to reduce unsolicited and harassing telephone calls. The law provides: Telemarketers may not make calls to your residence before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. The telemarketing company must maintain a "Do Not Call" list, and If you request to be put on the "Do Not Call" List, the telemarketing company must honor that request for ten (10) years. Research calls are not covered by the TCPA and "Do Not Call" requirements do not apply to nonprofit corporations.
Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, was enacted to address abusive telemarketing practices. The law provides: Selling under the guise of research is illegal and telemarketers are required to promptly disclose their name and that the purpose of the call is sales related, including the nature and price of the product the caller is attempting to sell. Telemarketers may not make calls to your residence before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Telemarketers are required to comply with consumers "Do Not Call" requests. Research calls are not covered by this law and "Do Not Call" requirement: do not apply to nonprofit corporations.