Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I lose my cell phone?
The first thing you should do is contact your service carrier. If your phone is truly lost or stolen, you don’t want someone else using your free minutes. By contacting your carrier, they can suspend the service so no one else can use your remaining balance.
As to whether or not your service carrier will send a free replacement phone, that depends on the cell phone provider. Some free cell phone providers will replace the cell phone free of charge (like Assurance Wireless) and other providers won’t. Instead of replacing the phone for free, they offer phones at a discounted rate.
Therefore, prior to signing up with a free cell phone service, read the small print to see how they respond to lost or stolen cell phones.
Can I have more than one free government phone in my household?
No, only one free phone service per household.
How long can I keep a free government phone?
For as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. Most free phone services require annual recertification. This means you must provide the necessary documentation to prove that your financial situation and household income still falls within the eligibility requirements for receiving a free government phone. If your financial situation has improved, instead of locking into an expensive annual phone contract, opt for an inexpensive prepaid cell phone.
Free voice and data limit is not enough. Can I get more voice/text minutes?
Yes you can, but it won’t be free. Most carriers offer low-cost ways to purchase additional talk and text time. Check with your carrier to see what type of packages they offer.
Can I use my own phone?
Service provider phones vary, but some will allow you to use your own phone as long as it meets their criteria. It usually has to be an unlocked phone. If your phone meets their standards, they will send a SIM card so you can begin using their service.
What if my phone breaks in the first year?
Some free government phone providers offer a one-year warranty on their phones. If your provider offers a warranty, call them immediately to report the damaged/broken phone. Not all carriers offer a warranty. In such cases you may be responsible for purchasing another phone. Carriers like Assist Wireless for example, charge a $25 fee to replace a lost or damaged phone.
Can I download apps to use on my free smartphone?
Absolutely! Your free government smartphone has all the same capabilities as any other smartphone. To download apps, visit the Google Play Store if you have an android smartphone or the Apple Store if your smartphone is an iPhone.
The only thing you must keep in mind is the storage capacity on your phone. While the app itself might not take up a lot of space, actually using the apps may require the use of data and/or additional space on your phone.
I suggest that you monitor your data usage after downloading and installing an app. Also, keep an eye out for the remaining available space on your phone. Each phone’s configuration is a little different so check the user manual if you’re unsure how to track data and space usage.
Be careful where you share your information
There are plenty of sites and blogs on the Internet that provide information regarding the Lifeline program and free phones. Several times I've visited sites where frustrated phone recipients are having difficulty either recertifying their eligibility, getting hold of customer service to resolve an issue or even buying more air time.
Thinking someone from the phone company will help them, they share their private information such as email address, phone number and home address. Unfortunately, they've just placed their personal information on a site that doesn't have the authority to help them. Not only can't the site owner help, but now their personal information is now posted to the web for anyone to see.
Never share your personal information on a public forum. Also, shame on the website owner for allowing such information to be published
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This site was created to help people find information about free government phones. We do not mail, activate or repair free government phones nor do we provide service. If you have questions about phone service we suggest you contact the phone service provider directly.
Last Modified: 22 November 2019
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