More carriers likely involved in Lifeline fraud, says FCC’s Inspector General
Last year, the FCC announced that Sprint fraudulently received millions of dollars in federal subsidies by falsely claiming it provided Lifeline service to 885,000 inactive subscribers. It turns out that Sprint may not be the only violator. The FCC Office of Inspector General (OIG) now believes that Lifeline fraud may be more widespread. “Alarmingly, OIG has discovered evidence some ETCs [eligible telecommunications carriers] regularly sought and received Lifeline subsidies for accounts with no qualifying usage within the timeframe required by the rule. [...] Even more egregiously, OIG has evidence ETCs have sought reimbursement for providing service to accounts that never had any qualifying usage,” said the OIG.
The federal Lifeline program provides a modest $9.25/month subsidy to low-income households to help pay for communications services. CWA has long supported the Lifeline program and urged the FCC to modernize the program to include broadband, which the Commission did in 2016.
FCC Says Lifeline Abuse Likely Goes Beyond Sprint (Law 360, Jan. 29, 2020)
FCC-OIG Advisory Regarding ETC Compliance with Lifeline Usage Rule (FCC, Jan 28, 2020)
CWA: FCC must pause T-Mobile-Sprint merger review pending investigation into Sprint’s Lifeline program fraud (Speed Matters, Sep. 24, 2019)
CWA urges the FTC and the DOJ to take into account in merger review guidelines the role of collective bargaining in counterbalancing employer market power