Q) What measures are taken to prevent SNAP benefit fraud?
A) USDA is committed to integrity in all of its nutrition assistance programs and has put special emphasis on the Food Stamp Program because of its size and importance.
The Department has already taken a number of steps to make it easier to catch and punish people who misuse SNAP benefits. The welfare reform act of 1996 included several provisions, originally proposed by USDA, to more closely scrutinize food retailers who apply for food stamp authorization and to more closely monitor retailers once they are participating in the program.
Retailers who violate program rules can face heavy fines, removal from the program, or jail. Individual SNAP recipients who sell their benefits can also be removed from the program.
One of the most promising developments in the fight against SNAP benefit fraud has been the increasing use of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) to issue SNAP benefits. EBT uses a plastic card similar to a bank debit card to transfer funds from a SNAP benefits account to a retailer’s account. With an EBT card, SNAP customers pay for groceries without any paper coupons changing hands. EBT eliminates paper coupons and creates an electronic record for each transaction that makes fraud easier to detect.