OIG Issues Advisory Warning; WCB Takes Measures to Combat Deceptive ACP Enrollment Practices

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The FCC’s Office of Inspector General has issued an advisory to alert consumers and providers of the deceptive enrollment practices by some providers of Lifeline, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, and Affordable Connectivity Program services.  According to the OIG, some providers are impermissibly coercing applicants for Lifeline service into enrolling into unwanted EBB/ACP service or into transferring their EBB/ACP service away from their preferred provider.  The OIG has stated that these practices violate Commission and program rules and that providers who use these deceptive practices and seek reimbursement for providing unwanted ACP service may subject themselves to potential liability for violating federal statutes.

Based on this advisory, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice announcing the following measures it is taking to address these deceptive practices: (1) refer any potential violations to the Enforcement Bureau; (2) conduct a comprehensive evaluation of consumer complaints; (3) direct the Universal Service Administrative Company to conduct program integrity reviews of enrollment and onboarding practices of Lifeline providers participating in the ACP; (4) direct USAC to adopt additional accountability measures where appropriate; and (5) coordinate with the Office of Managing Director and Office of General Counsel on recouping improperly disbursed funds.

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