Free Cell Phones Coming to California, Minus Federal Fraud Protection


#1

Free Cell Phones Coming to California, Minus Federal Fraud Protection
by John Sexton


6 Mar 2013

The California Public Utilities Commission has expanded its Lifeline program to include free cell phones. The Commission has also won approval to be exempted from the federal fraud detection network associated with the program.

The new cell phone program will offer “250 talk minutes and 250 text messages” per month to anyone making less than $14,702. A minimum-wage employee working full time makes $15,080 in a year.

The CPUC was already offering low-income individuals the option of signing up for special Lifeline subsidized landlines which cost half what local service normally costs. Some customers, including those on tribal lands, pay just $1 a month. Last week, CPUC expanded the program to include free cell phones and free monthly service.

An FCC survey also found a significant fraud problem associated with Lifeline. An average of 9% of those who received free phones were ineligible under the program’s guidelines. In some states, the rate of fraud was double that. In addition, as many as a quarter of those enrolling in the program refused to respond to queries about their eligibility, making it possible the rate of fraud is even higher.

To combat fraud, the FCC created a database designed to identify recipients of cell phones on an annual basis to ensure they were not receiving multiple service plans. But on Monday, the state of California received conditional permission to opt out of the central verification database despite concerns that California’s verification system is presently at a “heightened” risk for fraud:

Oh, great! One more government program for me (and other rate payers) to subsidize through, in this case, my own cell phone bill. I wonder if the CPUC will also mandate that cell carriers hide this new government-mandated fee (rather than itemize it) so cell service rate payers can’t see what this costs them. Were this just emergency service for seniors or or people with serious disabilities/diseases, I (personally) would not mind much (I’d much prefer such a program be done through a private charity, though). But this goes wa-a-a-a-a-ay beyond that. Cell service rate payers will, mostly, be subsidizing the improvidence of people whose life choices leave them unable to afford to pay for cell service or prepaid cell phones themselves!


#2

Wasteful if I’ve ever seen it.


#3

They have something like here. I know a guy who works for a company stocking paper part time. The state got him the gig through a labor service and I think pays him? It Keeps him off the streets. He gets some sort of Government provided cell phone because he’s so low income and living in some sort of halfway house. I think the phones are either second hand, donated or somthing. I don’t know the other details though. It they are used or donated phone though, then so what.


#4

Been around for a long time.
(free phones)

[ATTACH]1805[/ATTACH]

https://www.safelinkwireless.com/Enrollment/Safelink/en/Public/NewHome.html


#5

I think the phones are either second hand, donated or somthing. I don’t know the other details though. It they are used or donated phone though, then so what.

Were this through a private charity, funded by private donors, I would have no problem either.

But that is not what this article is about. These programs are: government programs funded by taxpayer $$; and programs mandated on service providers by government, funded by fees mandated by government and paid by rate payers as part of their phone/cell service bills. And the state CA does not want to do minimal eligibility and ant-fraud verifications! And the Feds approved CA not doing verifications!


#6

Meanwhile, deployed military personnel are going to go without the items that they need to increase their survivability and/or mission success.

Yes, Liberals are EVIL.


NHB
#7

In the US, government slashing the military to “save” $$ is a very old story. Soldiers, sailors, Marines and (more recently, AF personnel) pay the bill for pols’ false economy, in the “currencies” of their blood and lives.

More recently, those pols slashed the military to get $$ for their pet social programs! Whose most significant outcomes have been multi-generational dependency and perpetuation of the poverty the programs were supposed to cure. And enriching and empowering bureaucrats, politicians and other perpetrators of fraud.


#8

To be honest, I hardly ever use my cellphone. The only time I use it is if I have an emergency. I have a land line phone, which is what I prefer using anyway. I have a cheap, Tracfone that I never turn on unless I’m going to use it. I know that for most people their cellphone is their life-line. They do everything on their cellphone. It always amazes me how new technologies suddenly become a necessity rather than a need these days.


#9

We can’t use cellphones here; the woods and the terrain prevent reception.


#10

I took a train to Richmond, VA once and the train went through PA. I was amazed at how beautiful it is! Lots of hills and even mountains. Never realized that before.


#11

But on Monday, the state of California received conditional permission to opt out of the central verification database despite concerns that California’s verification system is presently at a “heightened” risk for fraud:

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about this here on RO, but here is an example of why lack of verification in CA is such a hot-button:

Welfare aid cards valid at casinos
June 24, 2010
LATimes.com
Jack Dolan

SACRAMENTO — California welfare recipients are able to use state-issued debit cards to withdraw cash on gaming floors in more than half of the casinos in the state, a Los Angeles Times review of records found.

The cards, provided by the Department of Social Services to help recipients feed and clothe their families, work in automated teller machines at 32 of 58 tribal casinos and 47 of 90 state-licensed poker rooms, the review found.

CA’s webpage for this program currently says that this is not allowed, but this mini-scandal came out 2 1/2 years ago, ample time for change. Need I say that the LA Times is very far from conservative?

So, when the State of CA asks for and receives permission to opt out of this fee cell service program’s eligibility verification program it’s an engraved invitation to fraud given to those among social program beneficiaries who have shown themselves to believe they are entitled to commit fraud.


#12

I remember hearing about someone who won the lottery big, and they were on welfare. Someone defended them, saying, “They have to play the lottery - that’s the only way they can get ahead.”


#13

Outside of getting a bleedin’ job, that’s probably true…


#14

I think that was in IL or MI, though I have no doubt that such a story is possible here in CA. The Dependence-Entitlement Mentality is not regional.


#15

[quote=“ClassicalTeacher, post:8, topic:38569”]
I have a cheap, Tracfone that I never turn on unless I’m going to use it.
[/quote]Tracfones ARE a prepaid method.

For about $20 bucks, you get 90 minutes and 90 days of service. 90 minutes is more than enough to make an emergency phone call for anyone disabled or medically traumatized. The only thing you have to do to keep the service active is buy a $20 dollar card every three months (and your minutes accumulate for any you haven’t used.)

I have a Tracfone for road emergencies, especially since I’m severely physically disabled and can’t even change a flat tire. (Which I recently had, and used the Tracfone to call for “Roadside Assistance” . . . which came in 15 minutes and saved by behind . . . so it worked for it’s intended purpose.)

So, how 'bout this California? Get your indigents Tracfones (a little less than $20 bucks at ANY convenience or food store . . . like WalMart for example), a $20 dollar card every three months, and be done with it. California can either pay the tab directly, or just flat out give the money, FOR THAT STATED PURPOSE, to its indigents. (If the money is given to the indigents, and they DON’T use it for the stated purpose . . . well, no Tracfone then and no cell calls is the penalty.)

If fraud occurs (and I’m sure some slick scammers can figure out a way to do it with this system), then at worst, California is on the hook for $20 bucks every three months per scamming indigent. . . a cost I would fairly guess is a LOT less than the proposed system.