How to Report Lifeline Assistance Fraud, Abuse and Waste

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Lifeline is under attack by people who don’t understand how much people need this outstanding program. But the simple fact is, if you support Lifeline you need to pitch in and save it by reporting any fraud, abuse and waste you see.

Fact is, no one supports Lifeline more vigorously than we do. We get emails every day from needy people who need help in these tough economic times and we understand better than most that Lifeline gives them exactly the boost they need. Without it, millions of people would have no phone — either landline or mobile — to use for all the things the rest of us take for advantage. Thanks to Lifeline, they can now use their phone to make and receive calls from potential employers, keep in touch with family, and have around for emergencies.

There’s an old adage that says there’s a rotten apple in every barrel. It’s true with Lifeline, too. There are always those who will take advantage of the generosity of others. That’s why controls need to be tightened up, and anyone committing fraud needs to be caught and punished, whether it be a phone recipient or a cell phone company providing Lifeline phones. If we don’t all do what we can to end fraud, abuse and waste, those who oppose the Lifeline will be given more ammunition against this helpful program.

So if you know of someone who lied about their eligibility on their Lifeline application, or if you know of a company or company agent that committed fraud in their sign-up process, please report them. (Don’t worry, you won’t be sending any cell phone users to jail. To the best of our knowledge, the government simply cancels Lifeline service for anyone caught lying to get a phone.)

The Reporting Procedure

It’s easy to report any waste, fraud or abuse; and you can choose to do so anonymously if you wish. Just contact the special Whistleblower Alert line at the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). What is the USAC? It is the organization that oversees the Universal Service Fund (USF), which oversees and pays for the federally-mandated Lifeline Assistance Program.

The USAC wants to hear of any wrongdoing, and treats each report of waste, fraud, or abuse as a serious and urgent matter requiring immediate attention. You can contact them about any of the following:

  • Potential violations of any USAC laws, rule, or regulation.
  • Gross mismanagement or gross waste of funds.
  • Fraudulent activity.
  • Abuse of authority.

There are four ways you can file a Whistleblower Alert:

Telephone: Call them at (888) 641-8722. Tell the operator you want to report a “whistleblower alert” concerning USF waste, fraud, or abuse. You will be connected to specially trained staff who will record your report.

U.S. Mail:

Whistleblower Alert
2000 L Street, NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036

Email: Send your email to [email protected]

Contact Form: Click this link for the contact form. You’ll be prompted for the type of complaint; select “low-income.”

You will talk to a USAC staff person who will ask a series of questions to obtain as much information about the situation as possible. You may choose to remain anonymous. Can can choose to identify yourself so the USAC can contact for further details if need be, and if you do, they will make every effort to keep your identity confidential.

Whistleblower Alert Hotline webpage:


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  1. If you are going to ask "how do I get a cell phone?" go here instead.
  2. If you are going to ask "how do I get a replacement phone," go here instead
  3. We are not your cell phone company. All technical questions should be asked of your vendor.
  4. Your comments are moderated, and we will manually approve those worth publishing within 24 hours.


  1. Chanelya says

    Hello I recently went to apply for a life l in budget cell phone and was denied because someone is already using my info to have and receiving service. How do I disconnect that service and block any one else that tries to use my info?

  2. jerry lewis says

    I don’t know if i’m in the right place but a ex-room mate keeps placing adds on craigslist and the phone minutes will be used up in a few hours . can some one help me with this .

  3. angel says

    hi my name is angel im a solo support for my family a friend toll me about life line program so i went a walfare office from my erea on the side walk i saw a lady given phones for free so i got one thank you lifeline on 8 10 2015 they recev my form i was aproved the for 12 months untill 10/13/2016 the problem is that total wirelees said that i was not aproved but if i have a visa i can get refill minutes for $25 .00 so im not gettin nottin free so went back to the plase ware i got the phone and i see people and same problem from buget mobile total wireless accurance wireless tag wireless access wireless life line is helping the people but this companys are taking avanteges of califonia lifeline program at the end i got nottin teking pravit information from people social id medical ebt and i got natting thank you angel flores

  4. Victoria miller says

    I would like to report ***** ****** of Elkhart Indiana who reports her children, which she does not take care of, and herself in order to the government in order to collect free government money. She also steals aderal from her children to sell as a source of income.

  5. Damon says

    I’ve had a phone from assurance wireless.. Violas that got infected with a random app. I had to get a new lifeline phone and assurance refuses to take me back without judge. Ping through hoops. The most recent problem I’ve had is with Total… I got an HTC evolved 3d… Bad ads I must admit, and I started getting text about my service being cut off only had it for two weeks why?

  6. spencer bussell says

    Budget mobile makes it next to impossible to speak to a live person and when you do they do not speak english and refuse or cant help and they direct you to the web site where they are on purpose frauding the ederly and disabled…..they have blocks in a line that you click on what product or service you want then when you click the top block it takes you to the next page where the blocks are switched in their order so you get decieved whatyou are purchasing….and when you are charged for a data pack or the like that you cant even use on the phones they provide thru the lifeline service they refuse to give you a refund or even convert the purchase to a useable product….and this has happend to numerous people i know at 5 bucks a pop for a service they know you cant use dont want and cant refunded they are making a killing and im certain they are doing this with intent to defraud

  7. Darrell says

    I didnt seen this question asked. I checked before I commented here but i may have missed it. Is it ok for someone to have a regular service provider phone as well as a safelink phone? My daughters boyfriend has had both of these in his name for months now. I dont feel its right. Id like to report this but im unsure if its the right thing to do.

    • says

      No, you are only allowed one Lifeline phone per household. That’s one landline phone with a Lifeline discount, or one free or discounted Lifeline cell phone. If his landline has a lifeline discount applied he cannot have the Lifeline cell phone. However, it is perfectly legal to have a non-discounted landline phone plus a Lifeline cell phone. We say it’s legal, but we agree it’s not right and a waste of government money


    Brandon with assurance wireless and Greg with Tag Mobile, both posted ads on Craigslist offering employment as an “Independent Contractor”. Brandon demanded I work 8 hours +. Brandon demanded I “sell” 31 cell phones plus in order to get paid $10.00 per application. Brandon indicated anything less would be paid at only $6.00 per application/cell. Brandon offered paid training. Brandon owes me for 7 hours worked during training. Brandon instructed me to tell customers that assurance was the only carrier that offered unlimitted voice minutes and unlimitted texs. Brandon confirmed to me via text messages that he found my cell phone which was left in his car after we went on our training. There were two other people training in the car. Brandon has refused to give me back my cell phone. He has also removed the ads he placed on craigslist. I saved a copy of the ads.

    Greg, on the other hand, indicated on his ad he would pay $15.00 per approved application….but then changed his mind and indicated he would only pay $10.00 per application. I am to purchase my own tablet and other equipment needed to work.

    Greg is afilliated with Ken ****** (Top 10 Map Listers).

    Both, Greg and Brandon requested I fill out an application online…they both run a background check on me. I am terryfied that they now have access to ALL my personal information….
    Brandon is associated with ******. He also sells solar panels. He operates out of *****. WOODLAND HILLS, CA 91367
    These appear to be huge scammers…They should be stopped…WHO IS OVERSEEING THIS PROGRAM?

    • says

      We had to asterisk out some of the info as we can’t allow unsubstantiated charges against persons on this site. Although we do believe you, as we’ve also seen various Craigslist postings like you are talking about that seem a little suspect. The only thing we can suggest is to contact Budget and Assurance and let them know of the contractors that are not living up to their promises, and to use the information on this page to report them to Lifeline.

  9. Alicia says

    Two phones are being sent to this address an one is safelink the other reach out an also have a land line and it is unfair because these ppl can afford a phone..

  10. stacie jones says

    I have been incarcerated since 6/02/14 and i went to bluejay to sign up for a phone and it says i can’t apply until 6/22/15 and i was in jail at the time. I need a phone and not able to get one and I dont know why.

  11. Nikko Lynette Schmitz says

    I ordered a Obama phone for a Vincent ********, mailed to ****** Clark Street Las Vegas NV 89122, never received it…Although maybe he didn’t qualify?? Was it sent and when?

    If it was sent is it possible for someone else to activate it?

    Thinking my neighbor, Brenda ****** may have stole it, but said it was her phone.

    How many Oboma phones are you allowed to have?

  12. smith says

    I see people getting signed up for these phones on the streets, How do I know which ones are safe? do they need SSN?

    • says

      They don’t need your social security number, although they might ask for the last 4 digits. Look for a vendor that is listed on our page of providers.

  13. Erica Hill says

    Reporting that i believe that someone has used my identity to get lifeline service. I recently applied for lifeline sevices and was informed that service already exist. Please help me find out who did this…and would like to know if i will be able to obtain services needed for my family in emergency purposes

  14. Traci says

    Can someone who has an Obama cell phone give it to there kids whom do not live with to keep? Or is that considered fraud?

  15. Craig says

    Does anyone know if people are getting arrested for having 2 phones in the home? For example two different disabled adults living in 1 apartment, and they both have a phone? Just one each? I read on the site that its considered fraud to have more than 1 per household. Just curious…

    • says

      It’s fraud be there have not been reports of any arrests that we’ve seen. All we’ve seen is all but of the phones being turned off.

  16. Mark says

    I know of many people committing FRAUD and have reported it to Assurance as well as the FCC without results, this has been going on for one year. One guy I know is still committing fraud while he has two jobs. This is why the tax payers are angry and I want to do something about it but keep getting a run around. The number provided here seems to be a fax. If you can be of any help please send me info. I am going to media outlets next. One fraud user Bob ***** (518)***-**** has been cheating the Government for two years.

  17. billy glover says

    I have been receiving mail under someones name that does not live at my address for their safelink phone> I have att and do not use safelink and would like to let safelink know they do NOT live here. any suggestions?

    • David French says

      contact Safe link and let them know so they can resolve the provider for you. Don’t bother calling CA Lifeline they will they you to contact the provider. I know this because I am going through a similar situation myself.

  18. William R. Webb says

    Apparently someone is using my identity for lifeline services and i need those accounts ceased immediately so I can start a new service!

  19. Sumi Esquibel says

    Okay now I am really frustrated. I first tried in February 2014 to apply online for the phone service.(Safelink) It would not accept my physical address so I called and the woman told me that I would have to wait 3 months for the system to upgrade?? I tried again on April 10,2014. The lady took all my information so she could send me an application. Okay so I waited and waited and no application came. I tried again at the beginning of June 2014. I saw that I could download the application from the site so I did, I printed and filled it out and sent it with verification that I receive medicaid, food stamps, and verification of my physical address. Okay so then at the end of June I saw on the site that my application was approved. YAY!!! BUT it says that it’s still pending for documentation. I thought okay it takes a little time to process….hmmm…then I called again at the beginning of July and was told they don’t have my documents, I thought but they have the application and the documents were sent with the application. The man I talked to was very unpleasant and told me that I need to still send in the documents I asked him well where did the paperwork go that I did send in and he told me it’s in back office but yet he doesn’t know how to get ahold of back office?? so after hanging up with him I went on the site towards the end of July and clicked on the links for sending documents I thought okay I can e-mail so I scanned and downloaded the documents and sent the documents via e-mail, and I called back again on July 28,2014 just to be told that the e-mail doesn’t work and that it is down for maintenance. I told the man are you kidding me? He said I need to send them again because they cannot get the info from the e-mail. Okay so the next day I saw that I could upload the documents okay so that is what I did yesterday July 31,2014. Today is August 1st 2014. I called this morning and you won’t believe what I was told…They can’t receive the documents by the upload…hahaha! Okay jokes on me. I get it this can’t be legitimate. I was told this morning when I called that for me to fax the documents. well I think the last 3 times of sending information that this is a false company. When I mentioned that I was going to get in touch with USAC the lady kept interrupting me and would not let me finish talking and she kept talking over me and I find this quite rude. She told me still that I need to send the documents. Now…anyone else getting a run around like I have just been through?? Very upset here!

    • chuck says

      Thank you for the info regarding safelink. i am trying to get ph service for my 85 yr. old mother. My suggestion to you is try

  20. Charles Johnson says

    I keep receiving emails asking me to ‘re-certify’ my SafeLink account. When I re-register on-line, it says that my information is incorrect and can’t proceed even though I enter it several times correctly. And when I re-register by phone, it says that I am already registered. I’m wondering if this is a phishing email. Are there any other complaints regarding phishing emails with respect to SafeLink?

  21. steven says

    could someone PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!.
    Someone is using my identity or something so I am unable to get a phone through the lifeline program. I have spent two weeks and countless hours talking to everyone from the FCC, PUC, USAC and Lifeline. NO ONE seems to be able to help me and they are all passing the buck. Keep in mind, none of my other personal accounts have been compromised in any way shape or form. Can some please help me?
    Thank You and GOD BLESS.


  22. Nicholas Paredes says

    Dear Sirs,
    I am totally confused. On 02/04/2014 I filled out and mailed my application. 7 days later in stead of getting my phone I got a new set of applications. I check the web site an it says” we mailed out your application, please allow 5-7 days. I tried calling the number 1-888-898-4888 and 1-877-732-3018 and all I got was an automated menu, and they asked me for my phone number..Dahhh, I don’t have a phone that is why I am applying to get one! I finally Faxed ANOTHER APPLICATION on 02/19/2014. Now I went to the web site filled in the inforamtion and it says “YOUR INFORAMTION CAN NOT BE FOUND” what is going on here? Do they just want me to give up? Please adise.

    Nicholas Paredes

  23. conisha moley says

    someone by the name of ****** is using my address for free assistance i recieved a safelink phone at my house my address is ***** 31206 how to i stop free mail coming here i keep returning it to sender i applied for a free for couldnt get one because ******* got one what do i do can u stop her from using my address thanks

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      Sorry, we can’t help you with that. To all: please, no names and addresses on public comments.

  24. Candice Foote says

    My daughter has a free link phone that someone gave her. I am not happy that she has the phone and would like to know what I can do to get it shut off.

    Candice Foote.

  25. John Stefanowski says

    I’m having a problem getting a free cell phone, the reason why I need a phone because both of my knees have severe arthritis and will need knee replacement I also have severe back problems, because of this I’m on SSI. I cant get a phone because a girl is using my address to get a phone. I have all her information, SSN and DOB. can you help me?

  26. max says

    I can’t get a phone because the lady that lived in this apartment before me had one. She died…that’s how I got the apartment. Safelink tells me that I have to send them a copy of her death certificate to prove it!!!! i keep sending THEIR mail that comes for her back to them with stuff written all over the envelopes — dead, deceased, no longer living, update your computers, etc. Two years and still can’t get one. I’m assuming her children kept it and are using it. What other conclusion?

  27. QueenMadea says

    My idiot neighbor has 12! no lie. I hate that she calls me on different numbers through out the day. We call her MA BELL. I wish I could report her. The agreement clearly states that each citizen can only get one phone per household. To top I off she has Galaxy 3 or4 phones thru Verizon for her and r 14yr old that she purchased. it makes me sick that this pathetic woman is abusing a program that was really needed by low-income families. She and thousands like her will be the cause of this program coming to an end. Phoenix, Arizona

  28. pamala says

    My sibling has admitted via a text message to the person he is “harassing” that she may not have received his last rant because “i ran out of minutes on one of THREE obamaphones they HANDED to me for FREE bcuz im a MOOCH LMMFAO:)” quote/unquote. This is ridiculous; he isn’t employed, he doesn’t have a license, and he lives with our mother. The only person he communicates with is the person he is harassing.

  29. danessa jenkins says

    u people are blind. put two and two together. the reason druggies are able to get the phone and not hard working citizens is because they want to track and record the drug users to crack down on the war against drugs. wake up America and smell the coffee. times are changing

    • Holland says

      Yes! Omg my boyfriend was arrested randomly tonight for a warrant in another county, after sending his id pic to our neighbor to becone a distributor. A few days ago my homeless friend that is staying with me, was arrested. He has a phone from this program and lost it right before getting arrested for jaywalking. My boyfriends brother is our roomate and the day he signed up for the phone, he was accused of “drinking in public” (it was a bottle of orange juice) and then beaten by the cops for resisting arrest and thrown in jail.


  30. patrice moynihan says

    I think someone should check out qlinkwireless, they have all my qualifying documentation and I cannot get a live person to respond to my questions. This has been going on for over 2 months. I suspect they are scamming the free government program and who knows what they are doing to me with all that faxed/mailed documentation I sent them. I am going to use the website that was recommended and hope for some action. We still need help on Hawaii.

  31. Free Government Cell Phones says

    We’ve taken the liberty of editing your phone number. Our standard advice: Don’t give out personal information on the internet. That being said, Hanna, we are not the phone company. Contact your service provider if you want to cancel your service.

  32. Dianne Vandervoort says

    There is a woman out here who has obtained some 7 phones by having them sent to her “friends” addresses. That way she does not feel they can trace them. Mail from Assurance still comes here addressed to her daughter. She gave me a phone. I had no idea where it came from. Then she became angry & had it cut off. I have written to Assurance Wireless & called them. I do not know if they ever did anything or not.

  33. Joseph Murray says

    As for tax payers that are worried about paying for lifeline benefits you are required by law to pay universal service access fee’s if you have a land line or cell phone so even if the lifeline benefit program didn’t exist you would still probably be faced paying the same fee’s as before the program came into existence.

  34. Joseph Murray says

    While the FCC has suggested what I’ve state above publicly I’m not so sure they have taken appropriate action to create such a real time database I would suggest anyone reading my comments please contact USAC and The FCC and lets all try to get them on the same page.

  35. Joseph Murray says

    ETC’s need to be held under more regulation with this program it’s often the case that one ETC doesn’t have a clue what the other has on file and that’s why so many people have 2-5 cell phones running all at the same time USAC needs a main database to track all the ETC’s Applicants and their lifeline customers and it will fix much of the problem with the program.

  36. Amy says

    I know a guy that has TWO of these free-phones. His neighbors in his apartment complex all have two phones as well. How is this even possible? I couldn’t file a complaint because the link here doesn’t work. What the hell….whose paying for these phones? Me the taxpayer? This is insane!

  37. Deb Ivester says

    Agree totally with “JUSTPLAINTIRED”. My 80 yr old little Mother needs one of these phones. Worked hard all her life, paid into goverment taxes for over 60 yrs. I helped her apply for a phone. Found out a seriously mentally ill drug addict woman had used her address to get one for herself. Just for the life of me, I cannot wrap my mind around how these thieves get away with all the freebees the goverment give them! Then when an honest person whom is in desire need of help, cannot get any . PLEASE tell American what is wrong with this picture !

  38. justplaintired says

    Funny, I am disabled. Someone druggie used my address…I cannot get a phone. Safelink asked me for tons of proof, I faxed it…lived in same place or over 12 years and can prove it. NOTHING. More like, “First Come, First Serve”. I have serious health issues, they just like their dope. There needs needs to be more of a cap on this than just the “Under penalty of perjury…” clause. Just like selling their Link cards…make them drug test before you the taxpayers give them anything…you work hard to support these lowlifes!!

  39. dog says

    they give these phone they dont check the people out i no people with 5 to 10 phone we report them no one will check them out stop giveing these phone to the lazy bumbs