Free iPhone ‘from the government’ is not genuine

27 April 2023
What was claimed

You can get a free iPhone 13 Pro Max from the government if you are on certain benefits.

Our verdict

You cannot get a free iPhone from the UK government as part of any benefits scheme.


A post in a local Facebook page for Birmingham features an image of someone holding an iPhone with the caption: “I just received my iphone 13 pro max from the Government and i am so grateful 🙏❤️ Are you on Food stamps, Medical-aid , Sections 8 or any form of Government assistance? Follow the link below to also get your Free Phone.”

The post has over 700 shares and the comments have been turned off, which can be a sign of a hoax post.

But there is no such government scheme in the UK where people can be eligible to receive free iPhones. There are social tariffs, which are discounted broadband and mobile deals for people on benefits like Universal Credit. The social tariffs listed on Ofcom’s website that relate to mobile contracts appear to be ‘sim only’, meaning they don’t include a handset.

There are several clues that this post originated in the US and isn’t related to any real UK scheme. For example, a link in the post takes you to a page that says “The Government is giving Eligible Americans FREE Smartphones with Free Talk, Text & Data”. 

The webpage also asks “On food stamps or Medicaid? Receive a free smart phone”. Medicaid is a US government programme providing health insurance to certain residents. 

“Section 8” which is mentioned in the post appears to be a reference to another US programme that provides vouchers to eligible people that contribute to their housing costs.

The webpage linked in the post also goes on to mention the “FREE Federal Lifeline Assistance program”. This appears to refer to a US programme run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that provides discounted phone and broadband packages to people on low incomes. 

The FCC’s website says it gives “up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for those on Tribal lands”. It does not appear to provide free handsets.

There is also a “short quiz” on the webpage, which asks if your household is “in any Government Programs”. It doesn’t matter whether you click ‘yes’ or ‘no’, both take you to another website selling fitness trackers, not iPhones.

Image courtesy of Thai Nguyen

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