Reporting Public Assistance Fraud in Pennsylvania
Residents should report public assistance fraud in Pennsylvania when they suspect it. The state's population experiences unintended penalties for public assistance fraud when it goes unreported, as funds used to help residents in need are given to those manipulating the system. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) in conjunction with the Department of Human Services (DHS) handles welfare fraud. While the job of inspecting and investigating welfare fraud cases belongs to these two offices, residents are a very important resource for identifying and ending fraud. The OIG encourages you to report public assistance fraud if you notice that any person or household is impermissibly receiving cash assistance, food stamps or other forms of public assistance. Reporting welfare fraud is important when individuals receive benefits that they are not entitled to. In this article, you will learn how to report public assistance fraud in Pennsylvania and some of the penalties for individuals who commit these types of fraud.
How can I report public assistance fraud in Pennsylvania?
It is helpful to report Pennsylvania public assistance fraud if you are aware of it. Public assistance fraud reports for food assistance, temporary cash aid and other welfare programs available in the state. You should consider reporting welfare fraud if you notice any of the following from a person collecting welfare benefits:
The person has not reported his or her accurate household's income.
The person has not reported and continues to not report a change an income that pushes his or her household outside of eligibility requirements.
The person has not reported the correct number of people in the household.
The person has not fully or truthfully reported his or her resources or property.
The person is using an EBT card that belongs to another household.
The person is loaning his or her EBT card to someone outside of the household.
The person is manipulating public assistance or taking advantage of it in some other way.
The methods for reporting public assistance fraud are the online, phone and mail-in methods. If you choose to report a public assistance fraud by phone, then you should call the OIG's toll-free Welfare Fraud Tipline. Whichever method you choose, you have the option of remaining anonymous. It is beneficial for you to list your contact information when reporting welfare fraud in Pennsylvania so that authorities may follow up with you if needed. However, you are not required to do so. Methods for reporting assistance fraud may vary depending on the type of fraud. For example, there are different online forms for reporting welfare recipient fraud, welfare business fraud and government fraud complaints. You may also wish to report medical assistance fraud if you notice an individual abusing Pennsylvania's Medical Assistance program. The phone number for reporting this type of fraud is different from the Welfare Fraud Tipline.
After you report illegal public assistance, the OIG will accept your complaint and will review it thoroughly. In some cases of public assistance fraud reporting, the OIG may investigate the matter. However, you will not be given an update on the progress of such investigations. Find out more about reporting welfare fraud in our comprehensive guide.
Penalties for Public Assistance Fraud in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania welfare fraud is not taken lightly. Instead, there are significant penalties for public assistance fraud if the person or household is investigated and caught. Penalties for welfare fraud vary depending on the case but may include the following:
The guilty person will have to pay back in full the value of any impermissibly received benefits.
The person may be subject to community service.
The person may be subject to probation.
The person may be subject to imprisonment.
The person may be required to pay a fine to the Pennsylvania court and will have to pay any costs and fees associated with the court proceeding.
The person may be barred from receiving public assistance benefits for a time, or in some cases, forever.
Disqualification penalties for public assistance fraud occur when a person illegally receives benefits from cash assistance, child care and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offerings. Penalties for welfare fraud related to each program vary. If you commit public assistance fraud, then you may be disqualified from that program for a time period. After repeated offenses, your disqualification will be permanent. However, penalties for welfare fraud apply to the offending individual only. The disqualification does not extend to the individual's family or household members.
The public assistance fraud penalties program essentially has a “three-strikes” setup. If you are found guilty after a public assistance fraud reporting, then you will be disqualified but not permanently barred. However, after your third offense, you will not have another opportunity to receive public assistance benefits. Find out what the penalties for public assistance fraud if the beneficiary did not have the intent of deceiving the state in our in-depth guide.
The Importance of Filing a Public Assistance Fraud Report in Pennsylvania
While there is no public assistance fraud reward program in Pennsylvania, it is still important to report fraud when it takes place. This is because welfare fraud takes money and benefit opportunities from other truly eligible households. Thus, by assisting the OIG and DHS in handling public assistance fraud, you are providing a service to many residents of the state of Pennsylvania.