FCC Proposes $25,000 Fine for Failure to Respond to Investigation

On Friday, the FCC proposed a $25,000 fine against a carrier that failed to respond to a Commission investigation. In the NAL, the Enforcement Bureau stated that Net One International had failed to respond to a letter of inquiry launching an investigation into its practices. According to the NAL, the Bureau sent the letter of inquiry via certified mail, and the letter was signed for at the company’s headquarters. In addition, the Bureau attorney handling the investigation sent an email after the response date had passed, providing a second deadline for the company to respond. Thus, the company was given two chances to respond before the Bureau issued the NAL.

The Bureau proposed a fine of $25,000 for the failure to respond, and ordered the company to respond to the letter of inquiry within 10 days.

The NAL is significant in two respects. First, the proposed fine is $25,000, which is an upward adjustment from the $4,000 standard fine contained in the Forfeiture Guidelines. In addition, the fine is greater than the $20,000 failure to respond fines the Bureau had used a few years ago. The Bureau justified the increase amount as appropriate due to Net One’s apparent disregard for the Commission’s authority and investigatory process.”

Second, the subject matter of the investigation was described as “[Net One’s] billing practices and its offering of prepaid calling card services.” This investigation was initiated in July 2011, well after its earlier prepaid card marketing investigations, and roughly at the time that the Bureau was presenting to the full Commission proposed $5 million fines for prepaid card marketing practices. The timing suggests that the Enforcement Bureau is not finished with its examination of prepaid card providers. Presumably, more investigations of prepaid card providers are pending at this time.