DHS makes plan to prevent FoodShare fraud
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - FoodShare providers plan to use a federal grant to improve fraud prevention tactics through new detection technology.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there is an increase in fraud for families who use FoodShare, WIC or SNAP food programs in Wisconsin.
DHS Deputy Inspector General Tabitha Ramminger said EBT card information is getting stolen at a higher rate through Bluetooth and scamming technology at grocery store registers without customers or grocery stores knowing.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service awarded Wisconsin and six other states grant money to implement technology that could prevent identify theft.
Wisconsin will receive $741,751.
”The wide scale fraud that we’re trying to prevent here can wipeout a months worth of benefits or several months over time if it’s not caught,” Ramminger said. “So that can be pretty impactful for a family who isn’t able to get any of this money to support their family at home.”
Ramminger said people can scam machines ahead of time to retrieve EBT pins and then use that information to buy products elsewhere.
DHS will use the funds to higher more staff, invent and implement technology to detect and prevent this kind of theft.
“When somebody tries to steal something I don’t care what it is that’s not a good thing,” Wisconsin Grocers Association Brandon Scholz said. If the department is able to work with grocers to make sure those sort of fraudulent things don’t happen, that’s to our benefit because we want a very easy process. We don’t want anybody to have any issues or problems. Come in have an eventful shopping experience and go home.”
Scholz and Ramminger both said FoodShare needs increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. When those needs were met with more money, fraud also increased.
”Sure,” Scholz said. “The opportunity for fraud, mischief or theft exists and with more money it’s possible that somebody may be able to access it in a bad way as well.”
Ramminger said FoodShare customers can protect themselves by using creative pins for their EBT cards.
It’s too soon for DHS to explain the technology that the grant will help create to reduce the fraud in detail.
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