Late last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to fine Tele Circuit Network Corp. $4.1 million for unlawfully switching consumers from their preferred carrier to Tele Circuit without consent and adding unauthorized charges to consumers' bills.  

According to the FCC's announcement

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau investigation—which was first prompted by consumer complaints—also found that Tele Circuit had deceptively marketed its services, including by falsely claiming that its telemarketing calls were from the consumer’s current carrier. The telemarketers also discussed a fictitious government program for low-income individuals and senior citizens as a way to solicit consumer consent. Following such calls, the company switched consumers’ local and long-distance service providers—often called slamming—and, in some cases, added unauthorized charges to the consumer’s bill—often called cramming. Tele Circuit apparently disconnected local and long-distance service in some cases after not receiving payment for the unauthorized charges.

The FCC began its investigation after a series of consumer complaints to the FCC, state regulators and the Better Business Bureau.  According to the FCC, a "large percentage of the complaints came from low-incomer Americans and senior citizens or people filing complaints on behalf of elderly or inform relatives."  After its investigation, the FCC proposed a $5.3 million fine in 2018.  As reported by Law360, the FCC told reporters during a conference call that the agency eventually lowered the proposed penalty to $4.1 million because of the difficulty with enforcing certain accusations, including that Tele Circuit used third parties to deceptively obtain consumers' consent to switch carriers.