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Oregon, Pennsylvania, Louisiana senators file bill aimed at reducing SNAP fraud

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(The Center Square) – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, introduced the Enhanced Cybersecurity for SNAP Act to prevent benefit theft this week along U.S. Senators John Fetterman, D-Pennsylvania, and Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana.

Tens of millions of SNAP benefits have been stolen by criminals exploiting flaws in the system’s cybersecurity. However, Congress has been pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to require states to have secure chip cards rather than magnetic strips to make it harder for criminals to clone cards.

“There’s no excuse for this two-tier system, where families in need are stuck with outdated, easily hackable technology while folks with credit and ATM cards are better protected,” Wyden said in a statement. “Inaction is not good enough for families, not when it can be the difference between a family in need having food for dinner or going hungry.”

The Enhanced Cybersecurity for SNAP Act would direct the USDA to update its cybersecurity rules in hopes of making it harder for criminals to steal SNAP benefits.

Here is what the bill would require, according to a release:

USDA to issue updated regulations requiring SNAP cards to feature anti-fraud technology capable of resisting cloning. These regulations, which also cover mobile payments (such as tap-to-pay with a smartphone), will be updated every five years and must keep pace with private sector and federal agency payment security safeguards. With USDA funding, states will begin issuing chip-enabled SNAP cards within two years of the adoption of the new regulations. Within four years, states will no longer be able to issue new SNAP cards containing a magnetic stripe. Within five years, states will have to reissue all existing SNAP cards containing a magnetic stripe as chip-only cards.USDA to operate a grant program providing funds for upgraded chip-capable payment machines to small grocery stores in food deserts, farmers’ markets, and farm-to-consumer programs.States to provide families with no-fee replacements of SNAP cards in three days or less, if their card is stolen, cloned by fraudsters, or malfunctioning.States to offer multiple accessible, reliable, and mobile-friendly user interfaces, such as a smartphone app or online web portal, for families to manage their EBT account.

Other debit cards associated with federal programs have modern chip technology in hopes of preventing fraud. Some of these programs include: Social Security, Veterans, and the Economic Impact Card people received during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, replacing these funds can cost millions of dollars, in addition to increasing nutritional uncertainty in the lives of vulnerable individuals,” the release said.

The federal food stamps program sees $25 billion in benefits fraud annually, as The Center Square previously reported.

You can read the full text of the bill here.

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