Update, 9-4-13: a Verizon Wireless spokesman reached out to say that the wireless provider hasn't been fined by the FCC, and that the landline services provider (providers of home Internet and cable services) is the one being fined. Verizon and Verizon Wireless are technically separate companies. The headline and story text have been altered to reflect this.
There are a lot of good reasons not to like Verizon. But the Federal Communications Commission has taken particular exception to at least one of Verizon's practices from way back in 2006. In a post on the Commission's website, a press release details how the FCC Enforcement Bureau investigated an incident in which Verizon may have used some customer's personal information to market extra services to them, without informing said customers of their right to opt out of the data collection.
"In today’s increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honor its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices,” said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “It 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 FCC discovered the violation in January of 2013, when Verizon representatives told them there might be an issue... after the company had discovered it in September of the previous year, which is itself a violation of regulations. According to the FCC report, Verizon failed to generate the legally-required opt out messages for as many as two million customers starting in 2006. For this and other violations, Verizon has agreed to pay $7.4 million to the United States Treasury. The company will also take more rigorous steps to inform customers of their options regarding targeted advertising. While it used to inform new customers of their options in the first bill, Verizon will now place this information on every bill for the next three years.
It's worth noting that Verizon reported $9.8 billion dollars in income for the second quarter of 2014, making this fine less than a .1% hit to Verizon's income for that period alone. Also worth noting: the federal government of the United States doesn't really have the moral high ground when it comes to phone privacy.