If you are having a problem with the Lifeline free government cell phone program in general, or if you have an issue with a cell phone provider you are working with, you have two options to try to resolve the situation.
One is to file a complaint with the public service commission (PSC) who regulates utilities in your state. The other is to contact the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). In what could be simply an effort to have fewer complaints to deal with, the USAC’s website says you should contact your public service commission first. However, since it’s easier, we suggest contacting the USAC first.
Of course, both of these avenues should come after you have exhausted every effort to work with you cell phone provider, if in fact you have got that far along the process.
Contact the USAC
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is the organization empowered by the FCC to administer the Lifeline program; the free cell phone providers report to the USAC, and are reimbursed by the USAC. So the USAC does have power over each and every Lifeline phone company.
If you choose to call (888-641-8722), press 6, and then press 1. You will be connected to a live person.
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM ET
Phone: (888) 641-8722
Fax: (866) 873-4665
File a complaint with your state’s public services commission.
You may be end up having to file a complaint with your state’s public services commission (sometime called Public Utilities Commission and other names). This commission regulates privately-owned utilities, including telecommunications companies, and they can intervene between you and the cell phone company. Each one has a page on its website that will assist you in filing the complaint.
Be prepared with all the information you will need to identify the company and the specific problem, or they will not be able to help you.
There is a public services commission for every state of the United States. It’s easy to find out who your’s is, and to get their address, phone number, website and email address. Click here to go to to a map, on which you will click your state to produce a list with all the information you need.
List of public commissions:
Submit a Whistleblower Alert
Filing a complaint and submitting a whistleblower alert are two different things. But we include it here on this page in case you have something to report in the area of waste, fraud or abuse of the Lifeline program. The Federal Communications Commssion (FCC) has a special line for you to make the report. The FCC takes whistleblower alerts very seriously, so make sure you’ve got something pretty important to tell them. This includes instances of universal service support being misapplied, mismanaged, or violations of law, rules, or regulations by Lifeline phone customers or the service providers.
To make the Whisleblower report, contact the FCC’s Lifeline Fraud Tip Line at (855) 455-8477 or via email to Lifelinetips@fcc.gov.
Let us know what happens
We are very much interested in hearing about your experience with either the USAC or a PSC. Please leave a comment below letting us know how it went.