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TracFone, Others Socked with $14.4M in FCC Fines

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Oct 2, 2013, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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."

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