Officials Warn Free Phones for Veterans May Not Be Free
Officials are warning veterans from the Hudson Valley that offers about free phones might not be actually free.
Offers for the free phones and cell service for veterans have been found at booths outside a Veterans Administration facility in Ulster County.
According to the Ulster County District Attorney’s Division of Consumer Affairs, there is a government program, called Lifeline, that offers free or discounted phone service. It’s supported by the Universal Service Fund, which is a fund all telephone companies and other telecommunications providers pay into.
The program is based on income, not whether you’re a veteran. If you don’t meet the income requirements, you don’t qualify for a free phone or cell phone service.
Officials say “free” might end up costing a lot of money. Months later, veterans who signed up for the program may get notices saying they need to provide personal information and documents to prove they meet the income requirements.
The Ulster County District Attorney’s Office reports that people pitching the program never mention the income requirements.
Many veterans find that their incomes are too high to qualify for the program and face losing service or paying for something they thought would be free, officials say.
Consumers can go to www.lifelinesupport.org and use the pre-screening tool from Universal Service Administrative Company to see if you might qualify for a free phone. The site also lets you search for Lifeline providers in your state.
Even if you don’t qualify, try checking with your phone service provider to see if they offer any discounts for veterans.
Consumer Affairs can be reached at 340-3260.