What Is Food Stamp Fraud?

What is food stamp fraud? This is a question you may be asking if you're unsure whether someone is abusing the food stamp system or if you're a food stamp recipient concerned with following the rules to the letter. Food stamp fraud can involve someone providing false information in order to receive benefits or it can include a person misusing the food stamps. Both types of food stamp fraud can result in revocation of food stamp benefits and/or criminal prosecution. Read on for more information on what food stamp fraud is so you will be better able to avoid it or spot and report it if necessary.

Falsifying information. When you apply for food stamps, you'll meet with a caseworker and provide basic information about your household income. This information will help determine how much assistance you will get from the food stamp program. Lying to the caseworker about your income (i.e. stating your income is lower than it really is), is considered food stamp fraud. Do not under-report your household income in order to get more food stamps than you are actually entitled to. Doing so could land you in hot water and you might lose your benefits.

Misusing food stamps. Another type of food stamp fraud involves the misuse of the food stamp program's electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. These cards are designed to allow food stamp recipients to purchase items eligible under the program. Some will attempt to purchase ineligible items on the cards. If this happens, both the food stamp recipient and the retailer are technically guilty of food stamp fraud.

Reporting food stamp fraud. If you witness what you suspect is food stamp fraud, you can report it by contacting the United States Department of Health & Human Services either online, by mail or via a toll-free hotline: 1-800-447-8477. You'll be asked to provide specific details about any potentially fraudulent activities you've witnessed. You do not have to identify yourself–food stamp fraud reports can be made anonymously.

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