By Diane Lee
Ever wondered what happens to those old phones you send back to your carrier? Many of them end up in the Federal Communication Commission's Lifeline assistance program.
It puts free phones in the hands of people who have hit a rough patch like Scott Cheeks.
"I wasn't able to afford it then. And I guess they say the Lord answers prayers, he answered the prayer. I needed that," said Cheeks.
Cheeks was out of work and needed the phone to look for a job. That's the whole concept behind the program which has been assisting low income families since the 90s. It used to just help with the landline bills. Now Lifeline offers a free phone and free monthly service of 250 minutes a month.
"You have to bring in a picture ID. You have to have a food stamp card, medicaid card, the names have to match. If your children get free or reduced lunch you qualify, but we have to have proof. SSI, anything that is government assisted," said Bradburn.
Christie Bradburn at Wireless Warehaus in Spartanburg says the only catch is you can only have one per household.
So who funds the program? You do if you pay for a service plan. It's the small Universal Service Fee on your monthly bill.
"The only times people abuse it is by giving it to their children. Letting their children use it. This is for, you know, to help them out," said Bradburn.
But Cheeks says it gave him the break he needed to land work, and today we found him looking to buy his own plan.
"It's a blessing when you ain't got it," said Cheeks.
If you qualify for a free phone, you may also qualify for a $10 a month high speed Internet connection. Just check with Connect2Compete.