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So we received two interesting letters recently. These letters were from the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
Basically, this is what it says:
We have identified an existing LifeLine telephone at your street address. The following Lifeline eligible telephone number was identified as belonging to you [Insert my phone number].
Violation of one-per-household requirement is against Federal Communication Commission's Rules and may result in loss of benefits and prosecution by the United States Government.


My wife received the same letter. We own the phone numbers, the address, and the carrier listed was correct.

We've never applied for any sort of phone assistance.
I called the Utility commission, they have no record of us applying. They told me to call "Assurance Wireless" which is the subsidized arm of Virgin Mobile.
Assurance has no record of us.

To me, this indicates that Virgin Mobile was perhaps receiving government assistance associated with our phone numbers.... A quick internet search didn't turn anything up, but it's going to be state specific.

Anyone see anything similar.

Member Summary
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Jayne,
Can you provide information on the type of credit that you're indicating was applied? We've been a single Virgin ... (more)

dcg9381 (Apr. 13, 2013 @ 7:57p) |

Got this text message on the 11th:
"VMFreeMSG: You may have received a Lifeline credit and / or a letter from LITEUP TEXA... (more)

tamugop (Apr. 15, 2013 @ 4:38p) |

Weeks later, still haven't heard anything from Virgin Mobile or Assurant in regard to this letter... Nice work Virgin Mo... (more)

dcg9381 (Apr. 24, 2013 @ 9:25p) |

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dcg9381 said:   To me, this indicates that Virgin Mobile was perhaps receiving government assistance associated with our phone numbersBoth of you are currently Virgin Mobile wireless customers ?

I think it's less likely Virgin Mobile is receiving a subsidy for your phone service and far more likely someone at the Pubilic Utility Commission of Texas has no idea that not everyone on Virgin Mobile is poor.

Are you guys on lifeline service at home or not ?

Sounds like they identified a landline that was on lifeline plan at your home and are either offering you to switch to a cell phone instead , or they saw both a cellphone and landline account where both were lifeline , or one was lifeline and one wasn't

No, we've never been on lifeline or applied to be on lifeline.
I was a Virgin Mobile customer at one time, about two months ago. My wife still has an active Virgin Mobile account.
Our home was built on undeveloped land - there was no prior owner or addressee. No land line.
My phone number is more than 10 years old.

They stress (underline):
Only One Lifeline telephone discount is allowed per household

I think it's pretty clear that this is a "rules violation" notice

So just reply to the PuC in a certified letter stating that .

Demand someone at puc prepare a detailed written response , not a form letter, explaining this is resolved and that there is no lifeline services used in your household

Post a copy of the letter if you can, most likely a scam. If you are not willing to post letter give some of the info that is on there like the number they are asking you to call.

I got the same letter today. Me and my daughter both have Virgin Mobile phones, but no discount land line in the house. Makes me wonder too if virgin is getting some kind of government monies. Whole thing sounds like a scam.

Shall we short Virgin Mobile knowing that the Gov will crack down on this scam?

WhiteGuy said:   Shall we short Virgin Mobile knowing that the Gov will crack down on this scam?

You mean Sprint Nextel?

mikefxu said:   Post a copy of the letter if you can, most likely a scam. If you are not willing to post letter give some of the info that is on there like the number they are asking you to call.
Doesn't appear to be a scam.
General description:
Public Utility Commission of Texas Seal
Phone number listed is the PUC:
If you have any questions, please call the Texas Low-Income Discount Administrator at 1-866-454-8387
(It's re-printed in Spanish on the back)

I've called it - no scam, they just referred me to the carrier. The carrier referred me to the PUC.... There is an indication that my benefits are not "approved" and it's requesting that I apply. It also indicates that we can be prosecuted.

Links online indicate that the Govt is "cracking down" on people who have applied for benefits, but shouldn't be receiving them... I wonder if the carrier was applying for us without knowledge.

I suspect I was on some carrier's Low-Income phone list... And I didn't apply. Maybe this is the latest version of cramming/spamming if you're cheap with cell phones.

Here's the scan, some info redacted:

Public Utility Letter - Low income Phone

Could it be from Virgin Mobile USA recycling numbers from Assurance Wireless?

I just got off the phone with Virgin wireless, as I received a letter also. We have two prepaid phones, one for myself and one for my wife. On April 4th a text message showed up on my wife's phone stating that she had received, and would receive a $9.50 credit every month from LiteUp Texas. So I called Virgin on the 4th and the rep did not know what to do. Today I received a letter from LiteUp Texas saying that I had received a credit on my phone and the letter had my cellphone number on it no my wife's, which is where the credit was deposited.So I called liteUp Texas and they checked to see if I was enrolled in the program which they found I was not. Then I called Virgin, and they said to send a letter to LiteUp Texas so that Virgin could remove the credit from my wife's account. Neither I nor my wife applied for this program, so go figure? I will write LiteUp Texas tomorrow and ask them to have Virgin remove the credit from my wife's account!

TexasHotPepper said:   I just got off the phone with Virgin wireless, as I received a letter also. We have two prepaid phones, one for myself and one for my wife. On April 4th a text message showed up on my wife's phone stating that she had received, and would receive a $9.50 credit every month from LiteUp Texas. So I called Virgin on the 4th and the rep did not know what to do. Today I received a letter from LiteUp Texas saying that I had received a credit on my phone and the letter had my cellphone number on it no my wife's, which is where the credit was deposited.So I called liteUp Texas and they checked to see if I was enrolled in the program which they found I was not. Then I called Virgin, and they said to send a letter to LiteUp Texas so that Virgin could remove the credit from my wife's account. Neither I nor my wife applied for this program, so go figure? I will write LiteUp Texas tomorrow and ask them to have Virgin remove the credit from my wife's account!

I would suggest finding a contact within the Texas government (maybe state legislator) and showing them this thread.

At the bottom of the scanned letter posted by the OP, it says the program is administered by a private company (Solix). I'd imagine the more people on the program, the higher the adminstrative fee Solix collects. I doubt the provider (Virgin, etc) receives any significant sum more than the discount they are passing along (perhaps a tiny administrative fee, but not enough for them to do anything shady).

Is it possible that the program administrator is adding people to the program unknowingly to pad their pocket? Complaining directly to Solix won't solve that problem. That's why I suggest getting someone else involved.

Thanks for replying civ2k1. I recommend to anyone getting this letter and receiving low income assistance that for their Virgin cellphones that did not request low income assistance with their phone bill, to contact LiteUp Texas first to make sure they are not enrolled in that program. Then if they are not enrolled, LiteUp Texas will ask them to send them a letter stating that they are not enrolled in their program and should not be receiving letters from them upon this issue. My issue is different, as now I actually have to request they ask Virgin to remove the $9.95 credit they deposited in one of our accounts this month and also to stop depositing this credit which we never applied for.

Exact same issue as TexasHotPepper described. Two prepaid accounts, one got the text and we just got the letter in the mail yesterday. Not sure why.

So my case is different, probably because I've dropped Virgin Mobile.
I've called PUC, who said they have no record of me. I pressed them a bit, as their seal is at the letter and there is a unique code on the letter. They asked me if I had received "free minutes" from Virgin Mobile - which I can't recall any sort of account credit.

PEC offered then offered up Assurant Wireless, who is the "low income" arm of Virgin Mobile.
So we've got:
Sprint -> Virgin Mobile -> Assurant

I've sent PEC a letter with a copy of my notice.

I called Assurant twice today - both times, like Virgin Mobile, I got off-shore call centers. They denied having any record of me, my phone number, or any knowledge of a letter, etc.
They referred me back to PUC.

After 3 hours on the phone, I'm done. They can prosecute me. On my side, I haven't been a Virgin Mobile customer for months and porting your number out of Virgin Mobile kills your account access (as well as any positive balance). My wife still has a Virgin Mobile phone, so I can provide proof via prior bills.

The common parameters here:
Virgin Mobile customer
2 or more accounts at the same address
Live in Texas


I quit Sprint due to their inability to make rational business decisions in relation to long term customers with reasonable expectations. I got the same service at Virgin Mobile for 50% less cost. I quit Virgin Mobile after a pre-paid run-around where they couldn't handle more than $300 of credit on the account... This takes the cake however and sure indicates that they're getting paid for something that we didn't apply for.

Stop calling.

Write a LETTER and mail it to the head of the PUC

Include a copy of their letter.

Tell them you've never been on the low income lifeline programs and suggesting you may be prosecuted for their vendors problems and errors is reprehensible

Demand a personalized written reply , not a form letter, so you can keep it for your records in case some other agency attempts collection action or prosecution years from now .

Explain that this is affecting numerous Virgin Mobile account holders in TX , and if you do not receive a reply in ten days you'll be contacting local news media

CC the letter to your local elected official

In order to qualify for the Liteup Texas program, you have to actually apply to receive it. Same thing with the Assurance cell phone program. Have to apply to gt them, wireless carriers don't just add them. Well, not supposed to anyways. It appears to be something sent out to try to get more clients for Solix.

We got a similar letter today, saying "you were receiving the Lifeline telephone discount on more than one telephone number in your household." The letter goes on to say that my wife's number has been "de-enrolled." I didn't even know what Lite-Up Texas ws until I googled it a few minutes ago. It does seem like VM may have been skimming state money or otherwise enrolling users without their knowledge or consent.

This article in today's Washington Post offers more insight on the Lifeline program (which is paid out of that USF surcharge on most phone bills).
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-phones-subsidy-prog...

Apparently the FCC is starting to crack down on "widespread fraud," perhaps Texas decided to be ahead of the curve.

It's possible somebody in Texas had a database error confusing Virgin with Lifeline, but perhaps Virgin signed people up for Lifeline without their knowledge... It would be interesting to see where this investigation leads.

It is also interesting how Lifeline is paying for prepaid phones, when most prepaid phones are exempt from paying USF.

You have to absolutely 100% apply for these programs.

I have a relative on SSDI, and they have to apply, they have to show proof of what
program they are a member of and they have to recertify to it yearly.

It sounds like someone is trying to rake commish off house clearing a bunch of Virgin Mobile #'s

Agreed with the posters above -- this is either a deliberately confusing letter, created to sign up additional customers for the lifeline service, or a fraud perpetuated by Virgin Mobile when they signed some numbers up for Lifeline without a proper application.

The bolded sentences in the letter tell the truth:
Please complete the attached Household Worksheet and return it to Lite-up Texas.

Your eligibility for the Lifeline benefits cannot be approved until we receive this form.


The confusion is created by a single sentence. With that sentence removed, the letter would look like a simple offer to sign up for Lifeline:We have identified an existing Lifeline telephone discount at your street address.

In either case you should do what SIS suggested -- write a letter and demand a personalized written reply.

I'm not 100% sure on the intricacies of the Lifeline program, but my basic understanding is the cell carrier gets a reimbursement of ~$9 per customer which they then pass along to the qualfying consumer. The wireless companies that benefit from having customers on this program are the ones who get people to sign up for free or nearly free service solely due to this program (customer would not have signed up otherwise).

If the customer is already subscribed and paying regular rates, it doesn't benefit the carrier as the savings is passed directly to the consumer. The only possible profit angle would be perhaps a small administrative fee they might collect, but I've not seen mention of such a fee anywhere. HOWEVER, Solix, the program administrator definitely collects a fee for administrating the program. They stand to gain more than any other company when customers join the program.

dcg9381 said:   Here's the scan, some info redacted:

Public Utility Letter - Low income Phone


You should redact the postal barcode, too. It's linked directly to your address.

civ2k1 said:   I'm not 100% sure on the intricacies of the Lifeline program, but my basic understanding is the cell carrier gets a reimbursement of ~$9 per customer which they then pass along to the qualfying consumer. The wireless companies that benefit from having customers on this program are the ones who get people to sign up for free or nearly free service solely due to this program (customer would not have signed up otherwise).

If the customer is already subscribed and paying regular rates, it doesn't benefit the carrier as the savings is passed directly to the consumer. The only possible profit angle would be perhaps a small administrative fee they might collect, but I've not seen mention of such a fee anywhere. HOWEVER, Solix, the program administrator definitely collects a fee for administrating the program. They stand to gain more than any other company when customers join the program.


And how is it positively assured that the carrier will always "pass along" the savings to the customer?

NEDeals said:   civ2k1 said:   I'm not 100% sure on the intricacies of the Lifeline program, but my basic understanding is the cell carrier gets a reimbursement of ~$9 per customer which they then pass along to the qualfying consumer. The wireless companies that benefit from having customers on this program are the ones who get people to sign up for free or nearly free service solely due to this program (customer would not have signed up otherwise).

If the customer is already subscribed and paying regular rates, it doesn't benefit the carrier as the savings is passed directly to the consumer. The only possible profit angle would be perhaps a small administrative fee they might collect, but I've not seen mention of such a fee anywhere. HOWEVER, Solix, the program administrator definitely collects a fee for administrating the program. They stand to gain more than any other company when customers join the program.


And how is it positively assured that the carrier will always "pass along" the savings to the customer?


I assume the program administrator is supposed to monitor? Actually, you do have a point. I guess I'm just drawing an arbitrary line and assuming that a company like Sprint (parent of Virgin Mobile) wouldn't attempt to blatantly defraud. I tend to be skeptical, but it would definitely be a shock to me if Sprint (or a division) devised a plan to commit fraud like this.

It's not fraud , its probably all just an error that people not on lifeline but who have Virgin Mobile are getting letters alleging they are on lifeline

They are assuming everyone on VM is on lifeline

But these irrelevant form letters are worrisome and someone needs to respond and alert them to what is going on

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   It's not fraud , its probably all just an error that people not on lifeline but who have Virgin Mobile are getting letters alleging they are on lifeline

They are assuming everyone on VM is on lifeline

But these irrelevant form letters are worrisome and someone needs to respond and alert them to what is going on
I agree. It appears someone/something associated VM phone accounts with Assurance. Two numbers at the same address if what creates the flag because they/it thinks all VM phones are getting the Lifeline benefit.

I received this same letter and posted about it on a different internet forum. Someone from that forum directed me to this thread. I called yesterday and spoke to Makayla, the manager on duty at the Lite Up Texas office at the time. I, too, thought perhaps that Virgin Mobile was receiving some sort of subsidy from my account. We are not remotely eligible for a phone discount program. Makayla told me that neither of our phone numbers listed on the letter were enrolled in their program. I ask several times if Virgin Mobile was receiving any sort of subsidy from my phone line, and she said no. She also told me that they sent the letter to EVERY Virgin Mobile customer in Texas who had 2 or more lines in the same household, regardless of whether or not they were enrolled in the program. I am NOT happy about 1) The waste of taxpayers' money sending out thousands of unnecessary letters AND 2)the rude tone of the letter, which basically accused me of fraud. I was planning on calling back today and speaking with Carmen, who is apparently Makayla's supervisor, but I didn't have time. I will try to call back tomorrow. I am interested to hear any updates anyone else has about the situation.

Please stop calling and start writing letters to the head of the PUC

The manager will simply dismiss your concern , you need the top leaders to become aware of this and take action

i got the letter and the runaround as well......

I'm on Virgin Mobile prepay and they don't even know my real name let alone my address. I'm not sure how others signed up but you are pretty anonymous with Virgin Mobile.

do178b said:   I'm on Virgin Mobile prepay and they don't even know my real name let alone my address. I'm not sure how others signed up but you are pretty anonymous with Virgin Mobile.How do you pay, topup cards?

rufflesinc said:   do178b said:   I'm on Virgin Mobile prepay and they don't even know my real name let alone my address. I'm not sure how others signed up but you are pretty anonymous with Virgin Mobile.How do you pay, topup cards?

Yes, I normally buy top-up cards at the the store. A few time I got them on e-bay.

I guess the main thing is to notify LiteUp Texas and see if one is registered to receive the low income assistance for their phone. Then call Virgin Mobile and ask them to remove any credit which may have been deposited in ones account, and also for them (Virgin) to escalate the issue and stop any future low income phone credits from being deposited in ones mobile phone account.Be sure to keep a folder with records of the actions you took to correct the issue such as phone calls placed, who you spoke with etc. Most of all keep a wary eye upon your Virgin Mobile phones for the next few months to make sure that no low income credits are added to them. Hopefully, they will sort this mess out. However, I do have to wonder if this mess did not originate with "Assurance Wireless" the low income branch of Virgin Wireless, but I guess we will never know just who is behind it. But one thing is for sure, and that is that no Virgin customer should have to face issues like this unless one has specifically applied and signed a formal application for low income phone assistance from LiteUp Texas!

Everybody in Cleveland got subsidy letter

My apologies - Assurance Wireless is part of Virgin Mobile USA and one of Sprints prepaid brands. We were recently made aware of a processing error that may have caused some Virgin Mobile customers in Texas to receive both a Lifeline credit and a letter from LiteUp Texas. We are notifying these Virgin Mobile customers about the error, asking them to please disregard the letter, but please apply the CREDIT to your Virgin Mobile account. Notifications started on Thursday and should be completed on Monday. We apologize for the confusion and any inconvenience this may have caused. Thank you. Jayne from Assurance Wireless

Skipping 6 Messages...
Weeks later, still haven't heard anything from Virgin Mobile or Assurant in regard to this letter... Nice work Virgin Mobile!



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