USDA and States Achieve Nationwide Card Skimming Safeguards for SNAP Participants
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 27, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service announced today that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, households will have added protection from stolen benefits through Sep. 30, 2024, as the agency officially approved all SNAP state agencies’ plans for replacing benefits stolen via card skimming, card cloning and other similar crimes. This is a vital and necessary step in ensuring victims of fraudulent activities continue to have access to food.
USDA acknowledges the hardships faced by victims of SNAP fraud and is determined to support them while simultaneously combating fraud at its root source. Congress passed a law in late December 2022, that provided for replacements of stolen SNAP benefits resulting from card skimming or similar methods. The law required SNAP state agencies to submit a plan to FNS for how they will implement that requirement.
“Protecting the integrity of our nutrition assistance programs is a top priority for FNS,” said Stacy Dean, USDA deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “SNAP fraud is a despicable crime that takes advantage of families with low income. We are collaborating closely with state agencies to ensure that participants facing these hardships receive the support they need.”
FNS carefully reviewed plans to replace stolen benefits, working closely with states to clarify information, ensure their plans met all requirements prior to approval, and provide prompt replacement and enhanced protection of SNAP benefits. FNS has now approved all plans from the 50 states, D.C., Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which means that all state agencies officially have the authority to use federal funds to replace stolen SNAP benefits. More information about estimated plan implementation dates for each state agency’s plan is available on the FNS website. FNS also encourages state agencies to develop plans and proposals to prevent, detect and address card skimming by educating recipients.
FNS is committed to upholding the integrity of the program and combating fraud by working closely with state and federal partners, law enforcement, SNAP retailers, Electronic Benefits Transfer (or EBT) card processors, and industry experts. To bolster SNAP’s security and address fraud that targets SNAP recipients, other actions USDA has taken include:
- In March 2023, USDA announced a partnership with five states to pilot mobile contactless payments in SNAP. Program participants in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma will have the option to use mobile payments methods – like tapping or scanning their personal phones – instead of their physical EBT cards. This technology has the potential to help protect families from having their SNAP benefits stolen because of card skimming.
- FNS awarded nearly $3.1 million in SNAP Fraud Framework Implementation grants to five states – Colorado, Michigan, Mississippi, Texas and Wisconsin – to fund new projects to improve recipient fraud prevention, detection and investigation efforts. Three of these grants focus on the prevention of card skimming by developing media campaigns to educate recipients about the security of their EBT cards and implementing new optional EBT card features.
- FNS is providing technical support to SNAP state agencies exploring and implementing chip-enabled cards.
Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has made significant strides in enhancing SNAP by modernizing, protecting and reinforcing its impact. USDA remains unwavering in its dedication to strengthening SNAP, protecting vulnerable households and combating fraud. Together with state and federal partners, USDA will continue to innovate and evolve SNAP to provide meaningful assistance to those in need.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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