Food Stamp recipients now get free cell phones

You may have seen commercials on TV or on the internet offering a free cell phone for those receiving government assistance.

I heard something on TV about that they are offering people phones I didn TMt know it was for emergency purposes only or for their own leisure," said Edward Marks a Brownsville resident.

But the big question is who exactly is paying for it? Well you may be surprised to find out you are.

Action 4 News spoke to Jay Stone, the Texas Administrator for low-income family programs like this one.

The LifeLine program is a federal and or state program that offers discounted telephone service for folks who meet a certain criteria," said Stone.

Criteria like currently enrolled in food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, and all other government assistance.

The state explained the way its funded is by charging you, the consumer, a tax called the "universal connectivity fee".

That fee can be found in your cell phone bill but not everyone is excited about it.

There TMs just like a fee there and you think its automatic and you have to pay for it," said one Brownsville resident.

While another told us they don TMt know what many of those fees mean but they just pay for.

We decided to ask a cell phone carrier how such a fee is possible.

Nothing new about the bill itself, said Kerry Hibbs an AT&T spokesman. It TMs required by the FCC, all the wireless carriers are required to collect that, At&t.. Verizon -- it TMs been around for many years."

But not everyone is opposed to the fee that provides low incomes families with cell phone assistance.

It doesn TMt hurt me you know, what I mean, if right now I can work for myself probably in the future you never know what TMs going to happen to me, Garson Reyes said.

So the next time you hear a phone ring, just think you may be the one paying for it.