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.
NOTE: Now that the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has been added on top of the old faithful Lifeline Assistance program, benefits are greater than ever. It’s now possible to get unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited internet. As a result, the incentives to commit fraud are greater than ever. It’s up to you to report any fraud, waste and abuse 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.
2000 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Email: Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: