Millions of consumers use pre-paid cellphones through TracFone and its brands. For several years, TracFone sold only phones locked into its service, denying customers the opportunity to obtain service from another provider.
Now, as a result of settlement negotiations between the FCC and TracFone, the company’s customers are able to use their TracFone phone on other networks if they choose to change providers. Remedies in place for eligible consumers who purchased "locked" cell phones include refunds, credits or trade-ins, allowing them the freedom of choice. Going forward, TracPhone provides only phones that are capable of being “unlocked” by its consumers.
The FCC has made it a goal to increase the consumers' freedom to move their phones to other carriers' networks if they want to do so. Such policies promote competition and protect consumers. For more information on unlocked cellular phones, visit: fcc.gov/device-unlocking-faq
Tracfone and its brands
TracFone is an international wireless phone service provider that sells service under several different brand names. This settlement covers all TracFone's brands, including, but not limited to TracFone, NET10 Wireless (related to Family Dollar stores), Total Wireless, Straight Talk, SafeLink Wireless, Telcel América, Simple Mobile and Page Plus Cellular.
Consumers with locked handsets
TracFone has agreed to compensate consumers who have purchased locked handsets for TracFone service.
Customers of TracFone or any of its brands are eligible for compensation if they have been a customer of any of TracFone's brands for a year or more and if they launched service by a certain date (see timing requirements below), if they request handset unlocking from the company, and if their phone is working and has not been reported to be associated with crime or fraud. Customers who are not currently eligible may become eligible over time.
Customers can contact the company at tfwunlockpolicy.com or by calling TracFone at 1-888-442-5102 to check eligibility and, if eligible, receive one of the following in exchange for their locked handset:
- A new unlocked handset for Lifeline customers.
- Credit toward a handset upgrade.
- A partial cash refund.
In order to obtain compensation under the settlement, consumers must:
- Be a customer of TracFone (including its brands).
- Request handset unlocking from TracFone.
- Use the locked device with TracFone's service for at least 12 months and redeem cards for airtime usage on the TracFone network for at least 12 months.
- Possess a TracFone handset in working condition that has not been reported stolen, lost or associated with fraud, and not have their telephone number recycled or ported.
- Meet certain timing requirements. For non-Lifeline customers, the handset must have been launched on TracFone's service after February 11, 2014, or activated with TracFone's service after February 11, 2015. For Lifeline customers, only the original approved customer is eligible and the customer must have activated on TracFone's service after February 11, 2014.
- Customers in the military who are actively deployed do not need to meet the service activation and air card redemption eligibility requirements.
- Customers are eligible for the program only once every twelve months.
Contact the FCC
For further information email the FCC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inquiries received by the FCC at this email address may be forwarded to TracFone for resolution.
TracFone Phone Unlocking Program (PDF)