The Iowa Utilities Board has banned a long-distance telephone company from the state. Rob Hillesland is a spokesman for the Utilities Board. Hillesland says the Utilities Board found in a formal complaint proceeding that the Buzz Telecom had been committing "billing fraud" against many customers. He says the board has order all telecommunications service providers in the state to stop billing customers on behalf of Buzz Telecom and to deny the company access to their exchange services.
Hillesland says the Buzz Telecom was "slamming" customers, or switching their phone service to their company without the permission of the customer. Hillesland says the ban is rare. Hillesland says this is only the second time he can remember that the board has banned a company, so "this is pretty substantial and harsh action by the board." While Buzz Telecom is banned in Iowa, Hillesland says you should still be on the lookout.
Hillesland says you should look at your phone bill for any suspicious charges that you did not authorize. He says companies will use various names to try and sneak in charges. Hillesland says the action was taken to ban Buzz Telecom on the basis of 12 cases, but he says the board has received some 300 complaints. Hillesland says anyone who are suspicious about their telephone bill can call the Utilities Board toll free at: 877-565-4450. Iowa’s Attorney General and Consumer Advocate issued an advisory in December urging Iowans to check their phone bills for unauthorized charges from Buzz Telecom. The Attorney General says the company often targeted elderly Iowans.