‘Video Relay Service’ Providers Have to File More Claims Data

The growing medium has attracted fraudulent claims for services filed without merit.
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The White Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) collection of more data from video relay service (VRS) providers to prevent fraud by providers and keep the service fiscally solvent.

The OMB approved the collection of VRS service provider data by the FCC for three years. The approval was posted on the Federal Register on Feb. 15, 2011 the same date the regulation—Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program—became effective.

VRS is a form of telecommunications relay service (TRS) that enables persons with hearing disabilities to use “American Sign Language” to communicate with voice telephone users through video equipment, rather than through typed text, the FCC says. Video equipment links the VRS user with a TRS operator allowing the user to communicate with the operator using sign language. The operator then relays what the user has communicated to the non-hearing impaired phone caller.

However, the “explosive growth” of the VRS has attracted fraudulent claims for services filed “as evidenced by recent indictments and guilty pleas from call center managers and employees admitting to defrauding the (TRS) fund of tens of millions of dollars,” the FCC says.

As a result of the losses, the FCC had “to take immediate steps in preserving the fund to ensure the continued availability of TRS.” Therefore, “by requiring providers to be more accountable for their submissions, the Commission takes necessary, affirmative steps to preserve the TRS fund.” It says those steps include requiring a TSR firm’s chief executive officer, chief financial officer, or other senior executive submit “minutes to the Interstate TRS fund administrator for compensation on a monthly basis” and “to certify, under penalty of perjury, that the submitted minutes were handled in compliance” with federal law and the FCC’s regulations.

In addition, the FCC “requires such an executive to certify, under penalty of perjury, that cost and demand data submitted to the (TRS) fund administrator on an annual basis related to the determination of compensation rates or methodologies are true and correct.”