Well, this is a new thing for me… talking about something out in the news. But, since it affects the disabled in some way, I figure it would be of some use. The US Government is suing AT&T for payments made to AT&T by the US Government for usage of their Relay service for the hearing and speech impaired. Each time a call goes out, there’s a payment that AT&T gets for usage of their lines that the government makes because they are complying with the law. However, it’s come to the government’s attention that the callers weren’t really disabled, but that they were Nigerians doing scamming and that they were using the free service to fasciliate those scams.
The way the Relay Service works is that a person calls a special number with a TDD and the Relay service calls the number that the disabled person wants to get in contact with and becomes the bridge between the voice call and the TDD. They do not edit what is said, they type exactly what is said on both sides. Type for one, talk for the other. It’s exacting work, and you have to be trained in it.
Now the US Government is saying that AT&T knew that the Relay service was being used by scammers and they want their money back that they paid AT&T. The volume of the calls rose 95% and were from out of the country. That’s a red flag right there.
PC Magazine reports that the government wants to service the disabled, but won’t tolerate scammers, and I wouldn’t either.
Let’s hope they can get back the $16 Million that the government paid AT&T. Unless and until AT&T can figure out how to (or actually DOES) screen the callers to make sure they really are disabled, I think the government is right to ask for its money back.