TracFone, Others Socked with $14.4M in FCC Fines
The Federal Communications Commission is levying fines against a handful of network operators that it says violated rules governing the Lifeline program. According to the FCC, Assist Wireless, Easy Wireless, Icon Telecom, TracFone, and UTPhone all allowed some consumers to obtain more than a single Lifeline subscription. Consumers are allowed only one line, and the FCC believes the carriers in question knew, or should have known, that the duplicate lines were being given to ineligible people. The Lifeline program provides free phones and service to low-income Americans. The FCC is taking the action in order to reduce waste. The five carriers are being fined a total of $14.4 million, with the damages ranging between $1.23 million and $4.8 million per carrier. TracFone responded to the FCC's punishment, claiming that fewer than 850 of its customers were involved, who totaled only $8,000 in duplicate billing. "With almost 4 million Lifeline customers, obviously this is a very small percent. We do not believe that our conduct violated any rules or that the proposed FCC action is warranted."
FCC Fines Total Call Mobile $51M for Lifeline Violations
The FCC says Total Call Mobile abused the Lifeline program and received millions in improper reimbursements for duplicate and ineligible consumers. The FCC alleges that Total Call Mobile employees "willfully and repeatedly" violated FCC rules regarding Lifeline enrollment and unjustly enriched the company.
FCC Fines AT&T Over Lifeline Violations
The FCC today levied fines against AT&T and SNET, a former subsidiary of AT&T's, for violating federal Lifeline regulations. The companies over billed the government program, which helps ensure low income consumers have access to a phone line.
TracFone Settles with FCC Over Locked Phones
TracFone has reached an agreement with the FCC concerning its policies for unlocking handsets. In February of this year it became mandatory for all carriers to unlock customer handsets and to properly disclose their unlocking policies to customers.
Sprint and Verizon Fined Total of $158M to Settle Cramming Charges
The FCC today said Sprint and Verizon Wireless have agreed to pay $158 million to settle charges that they fraudulently charged customers for third-party services — a tactic referred to as cramming. Specifically, Sprint will pay a total of $68 million, $50 million of which will go back to customers, $14 million of which will go to state governments, and $2 million of which will go to the federal government.
AT&T's Cricket Brand to Cut Off Lifeline Service
AT&T recently indicated via its support web site that it will eventually discontinue offering Lifelife service through its Cricket prepaid brand. Lifeline allows qualified Americans to receive free or heavily discounted wireless service through Cricket.