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Corporation Commission staff files complaint against Oklahoma City telephone company

Staff for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission said Icon Telecom Inc. didn't properly oversee eligibility guidelines for customers to get reimbursements from the state's Lifeline program for low-income households.
by Paul Monies Modified: August 21, 2013 at 9:06 pm •  Published: August 22, 2013

Staff for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has filed a complaint against an Oklahoma City telephone company for failing to verify customers in a low-income phone subsidy program called Lifeline.

In a filing, the commission's public utility division said a review of Icon Telecom Inc. subscribers showed multiple customers with the same post office boxes, dates of birth or mailing addresses. In several instances, customers signed up with the address of an organization that helps the homeless but isn't a shelter.

The complaint lists 40,902 violations and asks for the company to come into compliance or face fines of up to $500 for each violation — for total fines of up to $20.45 million. A hearing is set Sept. 11 before an administrative law judge in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Lifeline program provides discounted landline or wireless service to low-income households. It is funded by Oklahoma Universal Service Fund fees added to the bills of most phone customers.

George Makohin, an attorney for Icon, said the company had been cooperating with commission staff on providing requested data and information before the complaint was filed.

“Therefore, it is deeply disappointing that staff did not seek to continue a dialogue with Icon, but instead filed sensationalized allegations in an entirely new matter,” Makohin said in an email.

About the complaint

The complaint said Icon didn't obtain birth dates and partial Social Security numbers for tens of thousands of subscribers to determine their eligibility for the program. Only one Lifeline service is allowed for each household.

Makohin said the Federal Communications Commission changed its rules last year on what customer information is required to be kept by carriers under the Lifeline program.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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