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Warning: Want to claim your broadband benefit? Don’t let scammers mislead you

Robin Layton

Oct 12, 2021 — 2 min read

Fake social media ads ask you to pay for free federal program.

Mature woman looking at the computer and touching her head

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With the federal government’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program, qualifying households get $50/mo. towards internet.

This program is free, but scammers are trying to get you to pay for it.

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a press release warning of the social media-based scam.

“Have you seen ads on social media that offer to ‘help’ you sign up for a government program that will give you a ‘free’ device and internet service in exchange for money or personal information? While there is a real government program to help people connect during the pandemic, there’s no payment required to enroll. That’s just a scam.”

Signing up for the real program is easy. The FTC offers this advice:

  • Only apply through the FCC and its listed providers. The only real way to sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefits Program is at GetEmergencyBroadband.org. If another company says it can sign you up for this program, check first to see if they’re an approved provider. You can also apply via mail.
  • Don’t pay up front to get “free” connected devices or services. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program is free to sign up for those who qualify. Never pay to sign up to get benefits.
  • Don’t give your financial or other personal information to someone who calls, texts, or emails and says they’re with the FCC. If you think a call or message could be real, stop. Call the Emergency Broadband Support Center at (833) 511-0311 to check.

The program was launched in May 2021 to keep people connected to the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Sept. 5, over 5.3 million households have enrolled in the program, with over 1,100 internet service providers participating. 

What to do if you’ve been scammed

Have you already given your money and personal information to a scammer? Make sure you report it right away:

“Act quickly to try to get your money back. If you think someone has gotten into your accounts or has your personal information, visit IdentityTheft.gov. There, you’ll get the steps to find out if your identity has been misused, and how to report and recover from identity theft.”

If you’ve seen the scam on social media, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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Robin Layton

Written by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Robin is an editor with Allconnect, handling broadband content. She holds an English degree from Shepherd University in West Virginia. She has worked as an editor, writer and designer for several newspapers acro… Read more

Joe Supan

Edited by:

Joe Supan

Senior Writer, Broadband Content

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