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USDA SNAP Penalties For Retailers

April 28, 2021 Uncategorized

The Importance of USDA SNAP Benefits

There is a reason that the United States Department of Agriculture created the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, program. Without this program, millions of people in this country would go without food. People who are needy get a certain allotment each month. They will be given a card that has a certain amount of money each month.

Most major grocery stores accept SNAP benefits. The reason that they accept benefits is because they know that they will be able to make more money. They will also be helping out their community. Many people live in an area that only has one grocery store. That is why having a grocery store that is close that accepts SNAP prevents people from having to commute to a different place.

Unfortunately, the SNAP program isn’t perfect. There are many regulations that have been put in place in order to stop fraud. A retailer can suffer many penalties if they are caught violating the regulations.

What Are Some of the Rules That Have Been Put in Place?

Every retailer needs to familiarize themselves with what can and cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits. People are not allowed to use SNAP benefits to purchase tobacco, hot bar items, household goods, alcohol and cosmetics. Your store is also required to use the proper equipment to process EBT transactions.

Additionally, a grocery store can engage in SNAP trafficking. Specific examples of SNAP trafficking include the following.

  • Exchanging SNAP benefits for cigarettes and alcohol
  • Exchanging SNAP benefits for cash
  • Accepting SNAP benefits from someone who does not qualify for them.
  • Accepting EBT payments over the phone
  • Buying someone’s EBT number or PIN number
  • Giving someone cash for a EBT transaction

Specific Penalties for Retailers

The type of punishment that you get will depend on the seriousness of the fraud that you have committed. You can potentially get the following punishments.

  • Trafficking-If you are caught buying or selling SNAP benefits, then you may be permanently disqualified from getting them. You may also have to pay a $100,000 fine for every infraction.
  • Sales of Gun-If you use SNAP benefits to buy gun, then this can result in a permanent disqualification. You could also be fined up to $100,000 for every instance.
  • Sales of Alcohol and Cigarettes-You may disqualified from SNAP benefits for three to five years. A civil money claim may also be filed against you.
  • You may also be disqualified for three to five years if you charge someone more than what the food is worth.

What You Should Do If You Have Been Accused by the USDA

If you are a retailer who has been accused of a snap violation, then it is a good idea for you to respond as quickly as you can. You can collect evidence and come up with your own defense, but you will have a limited amount of time to do so. The government has the ability to potentially ruin your store.

If you are convicted of SNAP fraud, then you may not be able to accept the benefits again. There are also other penalties that you can face. Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to talk to the USDA without talking to an attorney. Our attorneys will be able to build a strong defense for your case.

There is a possibility that your case can be resolved without going to court. However, if your case does have to go to court, then your attorney will be able to represent you. Our attorneys are up to handling the tough cases.

Not only can our attorneys help you fight SNAP fraud allegations, but they can also help you avoid them in the first place. They can make sure that your business follows all of the rules.

Way That You Can Ensure That Your Business Complies With the Rules

Being proactive will protect your business. You can avoid the negative consequences by taking the following steps.

  • Making sure that all of your employees are properly trained.
  • Keeping an adequate record of all of the training.
  • Maintaining a log of all of the SNAP transactions.
  • Encouraging your employees to report the suspicious activity that they see.
  • Making sure that employees are disciplined if they are caught violating the rules.
  • Putting measures in place that can stop fraud.

Training your employees is one of the keys to preventing any type of fraud from occurring. You should make sure that the employees are familiar with the USDA list of rules before they can operate a cash register. This will ensure that you have done everything that can to comply with all of the USDA rules.

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