FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- April 17, 2019
Contact: Kevin Kelly (573) 751-9300
FCC Inspector General Issues Advisory
Regarding Fraud in the Lifeline Program
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Office of Inspector General has issued an advisory
to alert Lifeline carriers, beneficiaries and the public to a number of fraudulent enrollment practices found pervasive across the Inspector General’s ongoing investigation targeting Lifeline carriers and carriers’sales agents.
“Many of these enrollment practices rely on identity fraud and the manipulation of personal information, including enrollee names, to evade the program’s safeguards,” said the FCC press release. “The advisory describes simple tricks used by fraudsters to create phantom enrollments. Such fraud results in substantial losses to the USF (Universal Service Fund) every year and diverts telecom support away from the program’s intended beneficiaries.”
“It is extremely important that consumers always protect their personal information and be aware of the company that they are doing business with,” said Missouri Public Service Commissioner Bill Kenney. “The Missouri Public Service Commission takes program fraud very seriously and we ask that consumers join in the fight.” Commissioner Kenney serves as President of the Missouri Universal Service Board.
The Lifeline Program is designed to provide discounted phone service to qualifying low-income consumers. The program has been in existence since 1985 and is overseen by the FCC in partnership with the states.
Missouri consumers participating in the following programs are eligible for the Lifeline program: Missouri HealthNet, food stamps, supplemental security income, federal public housing and Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit program. Consumers with a household annual income at or below 135% of the federal poverty level are eligible for the Lifeline program.
As of June 2018, Missouri had approximately 114,200 Lifeline subscribers.
The advisory is available at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-357035A1.pdf