Consumer Action responds to today’s GAO report on Lifeline

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San Francisco, June 29, 2017—Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action, released the following statement today in response to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline program, a program that has provided discounted phone service for low-income Americans for over three decades.

The Lifeline program is of vital importance to millions of America’s low-income seniors, veterans and limited-English speakers. It is unfortunate that certain carriers and consumers are violating the existing rules that govern the Lifeline program.

We note that much of the GAO’s investigation took place before the FCC adopted its latest reforms and that many of the issues it found have been addressed successfully. We applaud the FCC for taking steps to address concerns about Lifeline wireless and applaud reforms that are working. An Energy and Commerce Democratic Staff Report found last year that the FCC already has reined in a billion dollars in waste, fraud and abuse that took place under Bush-era amendments to the program. We urge the FCC to continue to monitor the program for fraud and abuse and implement new safeguards when necessary.

We urge the Federal Communications Commission to take reasonable additional steps to crack down on remaining ‘bad actors’ and effectively curb their abuses. We don’t want to make it harder for people who need Lifeline help to get it.

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Through multilingual consumer education materials, community outreach and issue-focused advocacy, Consumer Action empowers underrepresented consumers nationwide to assert their rights in the marketplace and financially prosper.




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