Quantifying Identity Theft in SNAP

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Many states have launched initiatives to modernize SNAP administrative processes in recent years. The use of online applications has become widespread, with 42 state agencies allowing applicants to apply for SNAP benefits online and 29 allowing participants to recertify or renew their benefits over the internet. Although these initiatives have eased burdens associated with SNAP applications, case management, and the recertification process, the new systems could also be more vulnerable to identity theft fraud, which has become prevalent in recent years.

Mathematica is working to quantify the extent of identity theft in the program by (1) estimating the state-level prevalence of identity theft in SNAP and the cost to the program, by isolating behaviors or markers potentially linked to identity theft in current SNAP caseloads in two study states; and (2) identifying operational methods and practices that succeed in preventing and detecting identity theft. The results of these analyses will offer program administrators a tool to protect and improve program integrity.