Monday, August 31, 2009

Free Cell Phone Offer Legit.

If you have been watching TV lately you may have seen advertisements about SafeLink, a company offering free cell phones to individuals who may qualify under a special government program. The spot shows a distraught woman, in the background is her car, hood up and engine smoking, and she is heard lamenting the fact that she can’t call home. At first I thought that this may be a public service announcement, but the number of spots and the placement in some very expensive air time slots soon convinced me it might be otherwise. Since the offer seemed too good to be true, I thought I would investigate. It had to be a scam.

After some investigation I found that it is indeed a legitimate offer. The phones and limited monthly service are free and are being provided by TracFone, a major pay-as-you-go mobile phone provider. The company has contracted with the government to provide this subsidized service. The specific calling plans are controlled by each state, but, generally if your income is less than 150% of the US poverty level, you could qualify for the unique program. The program is available to those living in Ohio. Kentucky is to adopt the program soon. Currently SafeLink is not available in Indiana and I could find no information on plans to offer it soon.

The genesis of the program goes back several years when the federal government set up a “Life Line” program. This program was designed to assure that low income citizens could have access to basic telephone service. The first phase only covered land line phone service. With the mobile phones quickly becoming much more than a convenience, the program was expanded to include them as well.

The SafeLink program in Ohio will provide a free phone and up to 68 minutes of use per month. If the user wishes to have more minutes they can purchase them from TracPhone at a hefty 20 cents per minute.

I am sure there will be those who disagree with me but I think that this program can provide some much needed security for a segment of our population that needs it and the hour of talk time should be more then adequate. I do feel that the program should be a bit more restrictive. As it is now, the user can buy additional minutes and text services as well as many other add-ons. These of course would be charged to the user. My fear is that they will end up paying inflated fees. The 20 cents per minute for time over 68 minutes a month is excessive.

For more information about the SafeLink Service and to review the eligibility requirements you can go to or call 1-800-977-3768.

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