News 4 Investigates: Dead people signed up for government funded - KMOV.com

News 4 Investigates: Dead people signed up for government funded phones

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KMOV.com) -

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is demanding answers after a new report revealed 47,942 dead people were enrolled in a program providing government-funded phones.

The revelation was made by the FCC Office of Inspector General and determined thousands of deceased individuals were enrolled in the Lifeline Program between 2014 and October 2017.

The Lifeline program provides a government-funded cell or landline service to low-income individuals.

The program is funded through the Universal Service Fee, a small fee attached to most phone bills. 

McCaskill has been critical of oversight issues within the program since 2012 after she received a solicitation for a government-funded cell phone at her Washington D.C. condo building. 

In a letter sent to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, McCaskill is demanding answers to the following questions. 

1.) What efforts have been made to prevent Lifeline providers from enrolling deceased individuals or claiming reimbursements on behalf of deceased subscribers? 

2.) What actions have been taken to penalize carriers for enrolling or claiming reimbursements on behalf of deceased subscribers? has the FCC determined the total amount that has been paid to carriers for deceased subscriber accounts? How much has been repaid to the Universal Service Fund?

3.) GAO's audit identified 1.2 million potentially ineligible Lifeline subscribers and 5,510 likely duplicate subscribers enrolled as of November 2014. What efforts, if any, have been made to verify these accounts or to de-enroll duplicate or ineligible subscribers? Has the FCC determined the total amount that has been paid to carriers for duplicate or ineligible accounts? How much has been repaid to the Universal Service Fund? 

4.) What is the current status of plans to launch the National Verifier? What specific security vulnerabilities were identified that led to the decision to postpone the launch and what steps have been taken to the address them. 

In a letter last summer, the FCC did discuss some concerns McCaskill has raised.

McCaskill is asking for answers to her questions by May 23, 2018. 

You can read the most recent letter McCaskill sent to the FCC Chairman here:

The FCC also released a statement, saying:

“Chairman Pai in July of 2017 directed USAC to take specific, immediate steps to mitigate waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program, including enrollment and subscribership of the deceased.  And in response, USAC has taken action to address this problem.  Most notably, USAC recently started using information from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File in the identity validation process, and this step has already prevented hundreds of deceased individuals from enrolling in the program.  Nonetheless, more needs to be done.  That’s why the Chairman continues to pursue additional reforms through the pending Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and is urging USAC to complete the work necessary to get the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier up and running as soon as possible.”  

 

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