On September 3, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission announced that Verizon has agreed to pay $7.4 million to settle an FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation into Verizon’s use of personal information for marketing. The investigation revealed that Verizon had used customers’ personal information for marketing purposes over a multiyear period before notifying the customers of their right to opt out of such marketing.

In addition to the monetary penalty, the FCC’s Consent Decree, which is valid for three years, requires Verizon to:

  • designate a Compliance Officer;
  • develop and distribute a Compliance Manual to all covered personnel responsible for helping Verizon comply with the Consent Decree;
  • implement a training program for covered personnel that includes instructions about reporting any problems related to Verizon’s opt-out notices;
  • develop a procedure to place an opt-out notice on each customer invoice (either electronic or hard copy) sent to every customer for whom Verizon relies on opt-out consent; and
  • submit periodic Compliance Reports to the FCC Enforcement Bureau.

In announcing the Consent Decree, Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, emphasized that “[i]t is plainly unacceptable for any phone company to use its customers’ personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out.”

The Verizon settlement comes on the heels of another notable FCC settlement with Sprint Corporation.