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Fraud includes concealing or not reporting information in order to receive ineligible public assistance benefits (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and Kinship Care Subsidy Program) and Electronic Benefit Transfer benefits.
How Can I Report Fraud?
If you suspect someone is illegally receiving public assistance benefits or is illegally using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card:
- Call Toll-free: 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578). Select option 6 from the main menu.
If you suspect retailers are accepting food stamp benefits for unauthorized items (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets), contact U.S.D.A. Food and Nutrition Services Compliance Section:
- (800) 424-9121
- (202) 690-1622
- (202) 690-1202 (TDD)
- United States Department of Agriculture
Office of Inspector General
PO Box 23399
Washington, DC 20026-3399
Examples of Fraud
Following are examples of some of the things that people conceal or do not report in order to receive ineligible public assistance benefits:
- Someone in the home beginning to work or quitting work
- Actual earnings or income of all household members
- Self-employment or doing odd jobs without reporting the income
- Ownership of property
- Money in the bank
- Unearned income such as social security, child support, unemployment
compensation or veteran’s benefits for any household members
- Everyone living in the home
- Someone moving in or out of the home
- Receiving assistance in one parish while living in another parish or state
- Receiving assistance in more than one parish or state
EBT Card Fraud
EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) is a method of electronically delivering government benefits. Instead of checks and food stamp coupons, recipients of public assistance have the Louisiana Purchase (LAP) automated benefit card. The Office of Family Support is also responsible for conducting EBT fraud investigations in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The types of violations are:
- Retailer trafficking (buying or selling food stamp benefits)
- Recipient fraud (buying and selling cards or benefits)
- Counterfeit card schemes
Prohibition of Unauthorized Use or Purchases Made with the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card
Recipients of Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP) and Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP) are prohibited from using their FITAP or KCSP benefits in any Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) transaction or use the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) at any of the following types of establishments:
- Liquor stores (this does not include grocery stores that sell liquor);
- Gambling casinos or gaming establishments (any place that allows gambling, but does not include a store that sells groceries and is housed in the same building as a casino);
- Adult bookstores, any adult paraphernalia store, or any sexually oriented business (strip clubs, etc.);
- Tattoo, piercing, or commercial body art facilities; any nail salons; any jewelry stores;
- Amusement rides, amusement attractions, or video arcades (including movie theaters);
- Bail bonds companies;
- Nightclubs, bars, taverns, or saloons;
- Cruise ships;
- Psychic businesses; or
- Any establishments where persons under age 18 are not permitted.
In addition, FITAP and KCSP recipients are prohibited from using their EBT card for the purchase of an alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, hard liquor), a tobacco product (cigarettes, etc.), a lottery ticket (including scratch-off tickets), or jewelry at any retailer.
Failure to comply with these prohibitions is considered an Intentional Program Violation (IPV) and the penalty is full case closure. The penalty time periods are:
- 12 months for the first offense,
- 24 months for the second offense, and
- Permanently for the third offense.
Reporting of Misuse of the EBT Card
The agency will rely on retailers and the public to report the misuse of benefits. Individuals are encouraged to:
- Call the DCFS toll-free hotline at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578) and select Option 6 from the main menu, or
- Fill out the online form with our new fraud chatbot.
To report a complaint to the Fraud & Recovery Unit, retailers and the public may call the 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578), email the complaint to DCFS.Fraud@LA.GOV, fax the complaint at (225) 219-1663 or mail the complaint to:
Fraud and Recovery Unit
P.O. Box 91147
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9147
DCFS economic stability offices are responsible for providing assistance to needy individuals and are committed to maintaining the integrity of administered programs. Equally important is the agency's role in insuring that the fraudulent receipt of such benefits is detected and that appropriate measures are taken to terminate ineligible cases and to recover ineligible benefits.
The DCFS Program Integrity and Improvement Division is charged with the primary responsibility for fraud detection and recovery of ineligible benefits. This section is also responsible for the collection of overpayments to both recipients and providers.