Free Cell Phones For People on Government Assistance Funded by the Public
Updated: Monday, November 19 2012, 09:25 AM EST
It is a government program paid for by you that FOX45 discovered was out of control. Free cell phones for people on Government Assistance funded by a charge buried in your cell phone bill. The phone are simple to obtain, and in some cases people obtain dozens.
The phone freebies are courtesy of a federal program called Lifeline - originally intended to insure everyone has access to 911 services. Instead it's become an entitlement to many.
Part of the problem: a one phone per person limit.
There is a lax control over the one phone per person limit, which has increased the cost of the Lifeline Program dramatically. Since 2008 spending on the program administered by the FCC has nearly doubled.
Mounting costs promoted Arkansas Congressman Tim Griffth to introduce legislation to stop it.
The FCC found almost 800,000 people received more than one phone. The commussion says it cut those recipients from the program saving two hundred million dollars of the 1.6 billion dollar budget.
It seems a growing number of people do believe it is the role of the government. A Youtube video went viral after a woman praised what she calls her "Obamaphone".
Truly getting a hold of spending could be difficult because there is a lot of money to be made. TracFone makes phones for the Lifeline Program, and gets 10 dollars for every unit handed out. As of 2011 there were 3.8 million TracFones in American hands.
The Lifeline Program started well before the Obama Administration, but it shows no signs of slowing down. A tent set up on Maryland ave in North Baltimore had plenty of customers, along with the store near Lexington Market that is still actively promoting free phones. Around the corner, phone are handed out from the trunk of a car.
It appears even as criticism heats up in Washington, but when it comes to free cell phones business is still hot.