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"Hear's" to Life!

News, Information and Ideas on how to deal with hearing loss in a hearing world. Plus a few other topics!

Justice Dept. Finally goes after AT&T on Illegal billing of Relay Calls

 I know of one business here in the Lake Country area that was a victim of this.  A stolen credit card was used via the Relay Service to have a rather large order that ended up being sent to a warehouse address in New York where it was then sold via the non-U.S. perpetrators.  While it amounted to a couple of hundred dollars loss for the business here, the bigger problem for them was trying to obtain the information on the source of the call via the Relay Service.  The proof of fraud was born by the business and eventually, they gave up trying to solve the crime.  In order to obtain the information from where the call originated, they were going to have to hire an attorney, get a court order and of course involve several police departments in different states.  This all happened almost 3 years ago.  

The Business contacted me for some help and that was when both of us realized the lack of oversight by the U.S. government/FCC on the relay call business.  For those of you with questions on the Relay System, how it works, ect., here's a great link:  transition.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/trs.html  If you scroll down on the page, you'll also find a section titled 'complaints'.  This will enable you to bring up all of the complaints by legit users made by State.  It was interesting to note, that there were not many relating to the foreign use of the service along with the criminal activity involved.  This leads me to believe that AT&T was not logging those in.  I know that the local business here that was scammed filed a complaint with AT&T, but I have yet to find it.  Yet, they continued to bill the U.S. goverment millions of dollars for the transaction of these calls.

Here's the story that came out today via USA Today on the AT&T charges via the Justice Dept.  www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-03-22/att-government-suing/53711584/1

For someone that cannot hear or see well, this relay service is their lifeline to the outside world.  As it has developed over the years, changes in technology have made it easier for those needing to use it.  Unfortunately, the lack of oversight by the FCC has also made it easy to use for those that should not be given access to it.  Add in the lack of training by AT&T as well as some of the other Relay Service providers when it comes to being able to correctly facilitate the service for the consumer and you will see via the complaints area of the link above how frustrating it can be to place a simple phone call.  

If the Justice Dept. is successful in recovering the millions of dollars from AT&T, maybe someone will realize that these funds could be partially used to improve the service and get all providers back to following the rules.  

Have a great week!

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