Sprint will pay Florida $2.4 million to settle charges that it switched consumers to Sprint long-distance telephone services without permission, a practice known as "slamming."

"This is a case where consumers were victimized by a process specifically designed to deceive them," said Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist. "This $2.4-million payment should serve as a warning that Floridians will not tolerate deceptive business practices."

Consumers were unknowingly switched to Sprint long-distance services after purchasing unrelated items at electronics stores. A customer might visit a store to purchase batteries, for example, and then at checkout be asked to sign what looked like a typical sales receipt but was in fact a letter of authorization. As a result, the customer would leave the store having unwittingly approved a change in his long-distance provider.

Investigations that began in January 2002 also uncovered evidence that sales personnel forged consumer signatures on these letters to meet sales quotas and receive bonuses.

Nearly 4,000 Florida consumers complained about the unsolicited switches and received restitution from Sprint at the time of their complaints. Consumers who believe they are victims of slamming may contact Sprint directly for restitution at 1-800-795-1149.

Florida consumers may also file complaints with the Florida Public Service Commission online at www.psc.state.fl.us or by calling 1-800-342-3552, or they can call the Attorney General's Fraud Hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226).