Are you looking to sell your food stamps? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that is a terrible idea. In fact, even attempting to sell your SNAP benefits to someone or putting your EBT card for sale on websites like eBay can have some serious consequences. You may even be disqualified from the SNAP program or, worse, end up in jail.
In this post, we will go into great detail on why selling your food stamps is never a good idea and what happens if you do. We will also discuss ways to get cash from your food benefits without selling them.
Why Can’t You Sell Your Food Stamps?
The answer to this question is quite simple: It is illegal to sell food stamps.
If you choose to sell your EBT card or SNAP benefits on purpose, you are committing fraud. This type of fraud is classified as an Intentional Program Violation (IPV). However, fraud does not entail that a person merely made a mistake. It does not imply failing to notify the SNAP office of an incident or activity. Fraud is defined as intentionally doing something unlawful. It means that the participant must have been aware that they were violating the SNAP Program’s guidelines rather than simply being aware of their actions.
Selling, buying, or trading your SNAP benefits for cash, non-eligible items, or services or attempting to commit any of these acts is known as Trafficking. According to Federal Law, engaging in SNAP trafficking can result in disqualification from the program and even criminal penalties.
Trafficking may include, but is not restricted to:
- Selling your SNAP EBT cards or benefits to another person
- Buying SNAP EBT cards or benefits from another person
- Stealing someone else’s SNAP EBT card or benefits
- Utilizing your SNAP benefits to purchase anything other than
- eligible food items
- Buying SNAP-eligible food items and reselling them for cash
- Attempting to commit any of the infractions listed above
What Is the Penalty for Selling Food Stamps?
The penalties for engaging in SNAP trafficking can include temporary or permanent disqualification from the SNAP Program or facing criminal charge(s) with potential jail time, depending on the severity of the violation(s). Moreover, SNAP recipients who are found guilty of trafficking will most likely be subject to repayment of those benefits they got by fraud.
Here is a list of various SNAP program violations and their corresponding penalties:
When a SNAP recipient is found to have committed an Intentional Program Violation (IPV) after being found guilty of fraud by a court or hearing or signing the disqualification consent agreement, the person is disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for:
- a period of 12 months for the first IPV,
- a period of two years for the second IPV, or
- permanently for the third IPV.
A SNAP recipient found to have trafficked food benefits for a controlled substance is disqualified from the SNAP program for:
- a period of two years for the first such violation, and
- permanently for a second violation.
A SNAP recipient found to have trafficked food benefits for firearms, ammunition, or explosives is permanently disqualified from the SNAP Program for committing such a violation for the first time.
A SNAP recipient found to have made a false statement or representation about their identity or place of residence in order to get multiple food stamp benefits simultaneously will be disqualified from the SNAP Program for a period of ten years.
Generally, the conduct of someone caught cheating the System must be extremely heinous to result in criminal punishment. A food stamp fraud involving more than $100 in benefits is considered a felony as per State and Federal Laws.
This implies that a SNAP recipient committing such fraud could face jail time as a penalty.
Additionally, a SNAP recipient convicted of trafficking benefits by a Federal, State, or local court for an aggregate sum of $500 or more shall be permanently disqualified from the SNAP Program upon the first instance of such violation.
How to Legally Get Cash from Your Food Stamps EBT Card?
The only legal way to get cash from your food stamps is by earning cashback or rewards on your EBT purchases. The trick is to spend all of your food stamps balance to purchase SNAP-authorized food items and receive extra cash as a bonus to buy other essentials. The money you receive as cashback is not considered a portion of your food stamp funds and is not provided by the government.
The two legal ways to earn extra cash on your food stamp purchases include:
Ibotta cash back
You can use Ibotta, which is a rewarded shopping service, to get cash back on your food stamp EBT purchases from a variety of marketplaces and brands. Ibotta has partnered with over 150 grocery stores, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, ACME, HEB, and Wood’s Supermarkets. It is legal to use Ibotta with EBT purchases since its service is based on claiming rewarded shopping deals and submitting receipts.
Costco reward checks
Costco shoppers with an Executive Membership can get a reward check worth up to $1,000. The Costco Executive Membership offers a 2% rebate on all Costco purchases. You can also increase your reward amount by buying special deal items such as wipes and diapers at Costco. You will receive your check about six weeks before your membership expires. You can use the check to shop at Costco or renew your membership.
How to Report SNAP Fraud?
If you suspect someone of committing SNAP trafficking or misusing their SNAP benefits, you must report such conduct by calling the Fraud Hotline in your State or County. You can also report SNAP fraud online by visiting your State’s Social Services website. All reports will be handled with confidentiality, and you have the right to remain anonymous.
For example: To report fraud to the California Department of Social Services Public Assistance, call the Fraud Hotline at 800-344-8477 or send an email to FraudHotline@dss.ca.gov.
Click here to find the hotline number to report SNAP benefits fraud in your State.
How to Protect Your SNAP EBT Card?
Your SNAP EBT card is a safe and easy way to use your SNAP benefits to buy food for your household. Hence, you must protect it, as you would, any other important form of payment. Do the following:
- Your SNAP EBT card should only be used by the members of your household who are included in the SNAP benefit case (or trusted authorized representatives) to purchase eligible food items.
- You must keep your SNAP EBT card in a safe place. You can use the same card for as long as you receive benefits, so do not discard it.
- Be cautious of scam websites or mobile applications that pretend to assist you in applying for SNAP or accessing your SNAP EBT account. They may be attempts to steal your SNAP benefits or personal information.
- You must immediately call the County welfare office in your area if your SNAP EBT card is lost, damaged, or stolen.
Note: If you make excessive requests to replace your SNAP EBT card, your local county office may suspect something is wrong and start closely monitoring your SNAP account. You may also need to provide an explanation.
How to Protect Your SNAP PIN?
Your SNAP EBT PIN is the key to accessing your benefits. Therefore, it should be protected to avoid illicit use. Follow these simple guidelines:
- Make sure to memorize your EBT card PIN.
- Never write your PIN anywhere on your EBT card or keep it next to the card.
- Only the members of your household who are included in the SNAP benefit case (or trusted authorized representatives) should know the EBT PIN.
- If your EBT card is stolen or someone knows your EBT PIN, contact your local county office immediately to report the theft and reset your PIN. If someone else uses your EBT card, the county will not restore your SNAP benefits.
Dos and Don’ts of Food Stamps
- Do not sell, trade, or give away your SNAP benefits, EBT card, and PIN to someone. Misusing your SNAP benefits is a violation of State and Federal Laws.
- Eligible recipients can only use SNAP benefits to buy USDA-authorized food items.
- Do not allow a retailer to buy your SNAP benefits in exchange for cash.
- Do not use someone else’s SNAP benefits or EBT card to make purchases.
- Do not use your SNAP benefits to make non-food purchases or pay for credit accounts.
- Memorize your EBT PIN well and only share it with people in your household.
- Keep your SNAP EBT card in a safe place to avoid losing it, theft, or damage.
- Report to your County office immediately if your EBT card is lost, stolen, or damaged.