FNS recognizes the power of SNAP in helping people afford the nutritious food they need. While the vast majority of SNAP benefits are used as they are intended — to supplement the food budgets of eligible families — FNS does not tolerate any amount of fraud. Those who defraud SNAP are committing a serious crime that takes advantage of families with low income. FNS works closely with state and federal partners, law enforcement, SNAP retailers, EBT processors, and other industry experts to continually strengthen and enhance our efforts to prevent, detect, and eliminate fraud and ensure those who commit it are held accountable.
Most SNAP recipients are eligible and use their benefits as intended. However, recipient fraud is when a SNAP participant intentionally violates program rules. This may include things like falsifying income or identity information on their application or selling their benefits for cash. There are severe penalties for recipient fraud, such as:
FNS provides significant support to its state SNAP agency partners in fulfilling their responsibilities to prevent, identify, and hold those accountable who commit recipient fraud. For example, FNS developed the SNAP Fraud Framework, a toolkit of evidence-based strategies to combat fraud. This framework combines data analytics with best practices from industry to offer flexible models for states to detect and prevent fraud. FNS also regularly conducts evaluations of states’ fraud fighting efforts to ensure they are following law and implementing the most effective program integrity strategies.
FNS is committed to providing clear guidance, resources, and support to SNAP retailers to help them understand and adhere to the program rules — and most do. However, retailers that knowingly break the rules — such as exchanging SNAP benefits for cash (i.e., trafficking SNAP benefits), selling items that are not allowable in SNAP or that were originally purchased with SNAP benefits, or falsifying information on their application to accept SNAP benefits — undermine the program and harm its participants. They are subject to penalties such as:
FNS has a highly trained team of analysts and investigators located across the country that is dedicated to preventing, identifying, and prosecuting retailer fraud. This team uses the latest tools and techniques to stay on top of fraud trends and root out bad actors.
SNAP fraud can also occur when people outside the program take advantage of its benefits for their own personal gain via scams such as card skimming, card cloning, and other methods of stealing SNAP benefits. These can be devastating for victims who rely on their benefits to feed their families. FNS takes aggressive action to prevent and address SNAP scams and also works to educate participants on how they can protect themselves.
How to Report Fraud
FNS appreciates the help of concerned citizens in protecting SNAP. If you see or hear about fraud, you can anonymously report fraud several ways:
- Contact your state. This is especially important if you think someone lied about their income or assets or is misusing their benefits.
- Call: (800) 424-9121; (202) 690-1202 (TDD)
- Write: USDA Office of Inspector General, PO Box 23399, Washington, DC 20026-3399
- Submit a report to USDA OIG online.