On February 13, 2013, the FCC Enforcement Bureau issued citations (sample) to eleven individual consumers with multiple Lifeline accounts. This marks the first time the FCC has taken action against individual subscribers for violations of the “one per household” rule that applies to Lifeline-supported services. The cases targeted by the FCC appear to be egregious violations of that rule. According to FCC records, all but one of the individuals had ten or eleven Lifeline accounts with various eligible telecommunications carriers (“ETCs”) and some had multiple Lifeline accounts with the same ETC. The individuals were ordered to cease and desist from applying for, or receiving, more than one Lifeline-supported service. The citations also threaten monetary penalties for future violations. One citation was issued to an individual with “only” three Lifeline accounts, but that individual admitted to having multiple Lifeline accounts in a news story, the specifics of which were redacted from the citation order.
Update: On February 15, 2013, the FCC Enforcement Bureau issued twelve additional citations to individual consumers with multiple Lifeline accounts. Each individual had nine or ten Lifeline accounts. It is unclear at this time whether the Enforcement Bureau’s recent action is an isolated event or the start of a continuing pattern of enforcement action against individual consumers with multiple Lifeline accounts. However, receipt of duplicate Lifeline support essentially will be eliminated once the FCC’s National Lifeline Accountability Databases comes online later this year.