Low-income households or individuals can receive assistance in buying food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. As of 2015, the Department of Children and Family Services served 364,134 families through the program. However, some applicants falsify their information in order to gain access to the program. According to Title 46-114 of Louisiana's Revised Statutes, food stamp fraud is defined as lying to get benefits, or not reporting changes in circumstances or income. Investigating abuses falls on DCFS's Fraud and Recovery Section, whom you can contact by email, fax, or phone.
A phone complaint is appropriate for allegations that require an extended discussion. Assemble the facts, including when and where the alleged fraud occurred, who committed it, and any corroborating details. Call DCFS's Fraud Hotline number, which is 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578). Then ask to speak with an investigator. If you suspect a retailer of exchanging food benefits for alcohol, lottery tickets or tobacco, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services Compliance Section at 1-800-424-9121.
If you feel uncomfortable talking on the phone, visit the "Reporting Fraud" section of DCFS's website. You may remain anonymous, if you wish. Just be aware that DCFS may contact you for additional details it needs to verify your complaint. Click the online complaint form link. Fill in whatever details you can provide of the suspect's age, appearance, contact information and Social Security number. State when, where and how the fraud occurred. Indicate how the department may contact you, whether it's by email, letter or phone.
Email, Fax or Letter Contacts
DCFS offers several ways of submitting complaints in writing. Notify the department if you're sending additional documents by clicking the relevant box on the electronic reporting form. Make photocopies and send them to: Fraud and Recovery Section P.O. Box 91147 Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9147, or email: DCFS.Fraud@LA.GOV. You also may fax materials to (225) 219-1663. If your complaint involves a retailer, write: USDA Office of Inspector General, PO Box 23399, Washington, DC 20026-3399, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The risks of committing food stamp fraud are considerable. Title 46-114 gives DCFS the authority to collect overpayments by court action, and strip benefits for 12 months. Second offenses trigger a 24-month loss of assistance. while a third means permanent disqualification from the program.
- Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services: Homepage
- Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services: Reporting Fraud: Fraud Complaint Form
- Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (Food Stamp Program)
- Louisiana Revised Statute: Public Welfare and Assistance: Title 46: 114
- Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services: Reporting Fraud
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.