Don't Make Calls on the Taxpayers' Dollar: Reverse Phone Lookup Will Find You!

The Universal Service Administrative Company manages E-rate, a fund that pays for the telecommunications and Internet access of U.S. schools and libraries. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates and oversees this function. Based on the results of recent investigations, the employees of Memphis City Schools (MCS) grossly misused the federal funding appropriated for their on-the-job cell phone use. The results of the audit were recently published, and they appeared pretty damning.

The total telecommunications expense paid by MCS during the last school year was over $600,000 and almost 85% of that was funded by E-rate. A sample of more than 2,200 pages of 2008 bills showed countless instances of fraudulent spending. Examples of misappropriated government funds included from extra bells and whistles (ring tones and screen savers) to downright indecent (sex chats). Of course, the most common type of abuse was attributed to personal calls. During the testing stage investigators used reverse phone lookup to determine the nature and sources of specific calls.

The findings have forced the school district to undertake a drastic policy revision concerning district-funded cell phones, to prevent future squandering of taxpayer money. Several cases of especially severe abuse brought into the open by reverse phone lookups were appropriately punished. Still, if the FCC determines that MCS has broken the rules, the school district may be required to repay a portion of E-rate funds, and future funding may be frozen indefinitely.