Charges that CenturyLink engaged in fraudulent billing practices have been compared to similar charges against Wells Fargo that cost it $185 million in fines and resulted in 5,000+ staffers being fired.


CenturyLink, $17.9 billion telecom company whose communications is headed by Debra Peterson, candidate for 2018 chair-elect of PRSA, has been hit with fraud charges that could cost it up to $12B.

Minnesota on July 12 joined seven other states in filing a class-action consumer suit against the company.

Debra PetersonDebra Peterson

Oscar SurisOscar Suris

The state says CenturyLink customers had to contend with “an incredibly complicated pricing scheme” that involved more than 1,500 different scenarios of what would be charged.

Wells Fargo communications are headed by Oscar Suris, who was co-chair of the 2013 national conference of PRSA in Philadelphia. O’Dwyer reporters were banned from all sessions and the exhibit hall despite pleas made to Suris and Patrice Tanaka, who currently hosts

Suris, current chair of the Institute for PR, did not respond to phone calls and e-mails and while Tanaka was sympathetic, she was unable to change policy set by the Society's staff.

Bloomberg Sees Similarity to Wells Fargo

A Bloomberg headline said “CenturyLink Is Accused of Running a Wells Fargo-Like Scheme.”

Former CenturyLink employee Heidi Heiser said she became concerned about practices at the company after reading about the charges against Wells Fargo.

Heiser said she was fired shortly after bringing a complaint to CEO Glen Post during a companywide Q&A session on an internal message board.

The June 16 Bloomberg story by Polly Morendz and Scott Moritz said AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have settled cases in which third-party companies had been adding services to customers’ bills without consent.

“CenturyLink is going to be in a world of hurt if this turns out to be true,” said Roger Entner of Recon Analytics. Heiser said her initial complaints to immediate superiors were ignored.

Mark Molzen, CenturyLink spokesperson, said the company “holds itself and its employees to the highest ethical standards” and that the charges were being taken “seriously.”