The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) applauds this week's Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) order in the Micronet/HT Teleservices telephone cramming investigation. The IURC order confirms more than 360 violations of the state law prohibiting cramming - which is defined as the addition of charges to a consumer's phone bill for services he or she did not authorize.
"The refunds and financial penalties in the order are important. However, what's even more important is the revocation of Micronet's authority to provide telecommunications service in Indiana," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Susan L. Macey. "While this order should put an end to the disturbing pattern we have observed from these companies, the order sends the very clear message that telephone fraud will not be tolerated in Indiana."
The OUCC requested a formal investigation of Micronet and H.T. Teleservices last year, alleging that H. T. Teleservices inappropriately billed numerous consumers throughout the state for Micronet's pre-paid directory assistance services. Consumers who were wrongly charged included several state government agencies, two municipal governments, small businesses and residential telephone customers throughout Indiana.
"Telephone cramming can happen to anyone, and that is why it is so important for consumers to read their bills very carefully each month," continued Macey, noting that most charges at issue in this case were for $5.95. "The best way to prevent telephone fraud is to regularly review and understand your bills so that you know what you're paying for, and so you can quickly take action if a problem arises."
The OUCC offers free publications on preventing telephone cramming, understanding phone bills and a range of other utility consumer topics. All of the agency's publications are available online at www.IN.gov/OUCC or by calling the OUCC toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency that represents the interests of all utility consumers and the public in matters related to the provision of utility services. The agency is active in proceedings before regulatory and legal bodies, and committed to giving consumers a voice in the creation of utility service policy. Residential, commercial and industrial customers with questions or concerns regarding utility service can contact the OUCC toll-free at 1-888-441-2494 or online at www.IN.gov/OUCC.
(IURC Cause Nos. 41546 - SC05, 06, 07)
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