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Lifeline Across America Consumer Outreach

Lifeline Across America is a federal-state working group established in 2005 to review outreach efforts on the Lifeline program and provide state, local, and Tribal entities with information and resources to help ensure that low-income consumers are aware of the program and understand the requirements for participation. Its members include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA). The Lifeline Across America Working Group (LAAWG) initiated a study and compiled a report in 2006 where it presented its observations and conclusions concerning best practices for outreach on the Lifeline program. The LAAWG has since undertaken several projects to improve outreach, including National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week (Lifeline Awareness Week), which takes place yearly during the first full week after Labor Day.

To help raise awareness about the Lifeline Across America initiative and to assist in the collection of input and distribution of outreach materials, the LAAWG maintains this dedicated Lifeline website, hosted on the FCC's website and linked to the websites of NARUC and NASUCA. This website provides information and resources to consumers, consumer advocacy groups, industry, and government stakeholders in a user-friendly format to help with Lifeline outreach and serve as a resource to help educate low-income consumers about the Lifeline program rules.

Lifeline Across America Media Contacts

FCC: Michael Snyder, michael.snyder@fcc.gov
NARUC: Rob Thormeyer, (202) 898-9382, rthormeyer@naruc.org
NASUCA: Barrett C. Sheridan, (717) 783-5048, bsheridan@paoca.org

Selected FCC Releases on Lifeline Reform

Dedicated Lifeline Fraud Tip Line - New Tools To Combat Fraud - The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau maintains a dedicated Lifeline Fraud Tip Line – 1-855-4LL-TIPS (or 1-855-455-8477), and an email address, Lifelinetips@fcc.gov – to facilitate reporting of possible fraud in the program. Callers are encouraged to provide as much detail as possible, including the name and contact information of the individuals involved and the companies they are using to receive Lifeline-supported phone service. While callers may remain anonymous, the Bureau urges callers to provide a contact phone number in case additional information is needed.

Lifeline Reform and Modernization Order and NPRM - On January 31, 2012, the Commission adopted comprehensive reform and modernization of the Lifeline program. See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Report and Order and Further Notice of Rulemaking, WC Dkt. Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Dkt. No. 96-45, FCC 12-11 (rel. Feb 6, 2012) (Lifeline Reform and Modernization Order). In the Order, among other things, the Commission directed the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) and Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) to conduct an outreach campaign to educate low-income consumers about the Lifeline program rules to ensure that consumers are sufficiently apprised of the new Lifeline program rules and any actions they may be required to take to obtain Lifeline service. The FCC is working with the LAAWG and other partners on Lifeline outreach and education.

Lifeline Duplicative Payments Order - On June 21, 2011, the Commission issued the 2011 Duplicative Program Payments Order. In that order, the Commission amended the Lifeline program rules to clarify that qualifying Lifeline consumers may not receive more than one Lifeline-supported service at the same time. The Commission also amended the Lifeline program rules to clarify that an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) may only make Lifeline service available to consumers who are not currently receiving Lifeline service. In conjunction with the 2011 Duplicative Program Payments Order, the Commission also issued the June 21 Guidance Letter, which set forth a process that the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the entity that administers the Lifeline program for the government, must follow to identify and resolve duplicative claims for Lifeline support.

Enforcement Advisory - On December 5, 2011, the Federal Communication Commission's Enforcement Bureau issued an Enforcement Advisory reminding Lifeline telephone service providers of the prohibition in the Commission's rules against signing up for Lifeline service any consumer who is already enrolled in the program. The Enforcement Advisory also stated that the Commission's 2011 Duplicative Program Payments Order requires ETCs to explain to consumers in plain, easily comprehensible language that they are not permitted to receive more than one Lifeline subsidy and that enrolling consumers in Lifeline without first asking if they are receiving Lifeline service from another provider violates the Commission's rules. Additionally, the Enforcement Advisory noted that the Lifeline rules require ETCs to comply with certain certification procedures to document consumer eligibility for Lifeline service.

Chairman Genachowski Lifeline Letter - On December 12, 2011, Chairman Genachowski sent a letter to the Commissioners of each state public utilities/public service commission, urging them to join the FCC in reforming the Lifeline program by increasing their efforts to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

Reviewed: September 26, 2014
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