The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly food assistance benefits to low-income individuals and families throughout the country. SNAP fraud costs taxpayers millions each year. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) actively fights fraud to help protect the taxpayers and ensure help is available to those truly in need. Among the common types of SNAP fraud includes trading benefits for cash and lying on an application to qualify. If you suspect an individual or retailer is committing fraud, you can file a report online.
USDA OIG Hotline
The USDA Office of the Inspector General verifies and investigates SNAP fraud reports. You can report fraud online through the OIG Hotline. You'll need to select whether you want to remain confidential, use your name in the report or submit an anonymous complaint. If you want to remain confidential, your name will be revealed only to the OIG. If report anonymously, you won't be contacted to answer any follow-up questions the agency may have, which could hinder the investigation.
You can also file a report with your state. Generally, the state's department of human resources or social services handles SNAP fraud reports. If you are unsure of your state department's phone number, contact your local social services office and request the number from the clerk.
Information Needed for the Report
You'll need to provide as much information as possible to support your allegation. The investigating agency will need the subject's full name and address. If you don't know the complete address, provide the city and state. The OIG fraud complaint form asks what the subject does for work, what they did wrong, when the incident occurred, when you were made aware of the problem and what rule they violated. If you're reporting a retailer, list the owner's name if known.
Any supporting documents or evidence you have must be faxed to 202-690-2474 or mailed to USDA, OIG Hotline, P. O. Box 23399, Washington, D.C. 20026-3399. When submitting any documents, include a note stating that you filed a complaint online.
Possible Reporting Rewards
The federal government doesn't offer any rewards for reporting SNAP fraud, even if it leads to a conviction. However, your state may have a fraud reporting program. For example, the Florida Department of Children and Families administers the Public Assistance Fraud Reward Program. Through the program, the person who reported fraud can receive up to 10 percent of the amount the agency is able to recover from the subject. The maximum reward is $500,000 for a single case. Check with your local agency to determine whether your state offers a reward program.
Consequences for Committing Fraud
Suspected SNAP fraud is always reviewed and investigated if enough information was provided to the agency. If the investigation determines the subject isn't committing SNAP fraud, you won't be punished for the false allegation. If the suspect is found guilty of fraud, she may be permanently banned from the SNAP program. Depending on the type of fraud, she also may face criminal charges, which can lead to imprisonment.