AT&T has agreed to a $6.9 billion penalty in regards to over-billing in its Lifeline program. Lifelife was promoted to give low income households affordable phone service at a discount if they qualify. After audits in 2012 and 2013 by the company showed that it didn’t remove ineligible users from service. The result was usually that costumers got an extra month of service.
This is where the company ran afoul of the FCC when it charged the federal agency for that extra month. The FCC is also said to have picked up on AT&T and former subsidiary Southern New England Telephone’s blunder. SNET will pay the FCC $4 billion for the same reason during the same audit period.
“American consumers trust that companies who receive federal funds will use that money appropriately. We expect companies to be vigilant in protecting public funds and complying with FCC rules,” said Enforcement Bureau chief, Travis LeBlanc.
The almost $11 billion penalty on AT&T and SNET will also see both companies implement compliance officers, a detailed compliance plan, and regular reports to the FCC to make sure over-billing doesn’t occur again in the Lifelife program.