Millions Caught Abusing Federal Phone Program
Updated: Thursday, February 21 2013, 03:29 PM EST
Next time you pay your cell phone bill, you may want to take a closer look at a charge called a universal access or service fee. The charge is money you pay so that people can have free cell phones. Now, a new report says that money may have been wasted.
The phones are obtained through a federal program called Lifeline funded by a charged on your cell phone bill that has handed out free phones to nearly 18 million people already receiving federal assistance.
Annual spending of Lifeline has nearly tripled since 2008 from $800 million to $2.2 billion last year.
But new details reveal the program is even more troubled.
A story published last week by the Wall Street Journal revealed that roughly two million people who already receive free phones could not prove they were eligible.
Since the report, federal agents stepped up efforts to reign in abuse by sending out notices to people who had received more than one phone.
The FCC is expected to issue citations to people who abuse the program next week.