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SNAP Charging Letter – What Not to Say to the USDA

April 28, 2021 Uncategorized

SNAP can be very beneficial for your retail business. Not only are you making it easier for your low-income customers to get the food that they need, but you can also generate more revenue for your own business. However, it is important for every retailer that accepts SNAP to follow the rules outlined by the United States Department of Agriculture.

If you violate any rules, then the USDA will send you a letter. The way that you respond to the letter will determine how the case goes forward.

How to Understand the Letter

If you are suspected of committing SNAP fraud, then you will be sent a letter. It will likely arrive via UPS overnight. The letter will have a list of the things that you have been accused of doing. Below is a list of some of the possible things that you can be charged with.

Benefits Trafficking

You can be accused of trafficking if you use SNAP benefits to get weapons, cash or drugs. It is important to note that this is not the same as using SNAP to buy ineligible food products. The penalties for using SNAP to buy drugs, cash and weapons will be a lot harsher.

Selling Ineligible Items

SNAP has outlined a list of purchases that people can make with their benefits. If you allow people to use their SNAP benefits to buy things that the USDA does not approve of, then your store can be accused of fraud. This includes things such as soap, hot sandwiches and cutlery.

Why The USDA Sent You This Letter

The reason that you have been sent this letter is because the USDA believes that you have been engaged in some type of fraud. The USDA loses money when people do not use SNAP benefits in the correct way. They try to punish retailers harshly in order to deter people from committing SNAP fraud.

What You Shouldn’t Do If You Are Sent a Letter From the USDA

Your first impulse may be to call the USDA if you have been sent a letter. However, you don’t want to do this. There is no such thing as a private conversation with the USDA. Everything is recorded and documented. They may also try to use what you say against you. In fact, the USDA agents have been trained to ask questions just so they can use the information you provide against you.

You should also avoid denying that the fraud actually occurred. This will not help you because the USDA will hire a team of investigators and can uncover the fraud. It is best for you to hire an attorney if you have been accused of SNAP fraud.

What You Will Need to Do Instead

It is important to note that you have to respond to the USDA within 10 days. You should hire an attorney before this 10-day period is up. The letter may give you the option of paying a monetary fine in order to avoid further punishment. However, if you fail to respond within 10 days, then you won’t be able to pay a fine to prevent additional punishment.

The USDA will have to be able to prove that you committed fraud. You can also use your own evidence to prove that fraud occurred. For example, you can prove that you and your employees followed all of the rules and regulations.

What Will Happen If You Have Had Prior Violations?

The punishment will likely be harsher if you have violations in the past. You don’t want to lie and say that you did not commit fraud in the past. You may be permanently disqualified from accepting SNAp benefits. You may also face jail time.

You definitely need an attorney if you have had multiple violations. Your attorney will be able to thoroughly examine the present and past violations.

Why You Need to Hire a SNAP Defense Attorney

The best thing that you can do in order to protect your legal rights is to hire an attorney. Your attorney will take a proactive approach. You will need to schedule a consultation with your attorney. The purpose of this consultation is for the attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and determine the best way to move forward.

You will also be able to ask your attorney questions about your case. You have the right to challenge the allegations that the USDA has made against you. The attorney cannot make any specific promises for you because everyone’s case is different. However, the attorney will try to protect your business and its revenue.

There have been thousands of retail businesses that have been forced to close due to SNAP violations. If you hire an attorney, then you will be much more likely to be able to keep your doors open.

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