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State utility regulators find own phone line switched without consent

December 16, 1996

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) _ The state agency that regulates phone service found itself a victim of ``slamming,″ in which the long distance carrier is switched without the customer’s consent.

The Department of Public Utility Control Utility discovered that six of the 14 lines had been changed on Wednesday.

``The lines were doing funny things,″ Beryl Lyons, an agency spokesman, said Monday. ``And someone called the operator and they got a WilTel operator.″

The state has a long-distance telephone contract with MCI.

Federal law requires the customer to provide written consent to the new carrier for a change. Only then can a carrier notify the local phone company to make the switch. The state agency had not requested the change to WilTel.

Southern New England Telecommunications had made the switch at the request of WilTel, which was responsible for getting written permission from the customer, said Myra Simmons, an SNET spokeswoman.

WilTel, a business unit of WorldCom Inc., based in Tulsa, Okla., acts as a wholesaler for phone service, said Gil Broyles, a WorldCom spokesman.

Broyles said he was not familiar with the case in Connecticut and could not comment on what happened to the regulatory agency.

But he said when ``slamming″ occurs, sometimes a reseller who works on a commission has not signed up enough customers or sometimes it is a simple error where the wrong numbers are changed.

The Department of Public Utility Control, which switched it phones back to MCI on Friday, said it plans to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.