Perillo proposes measure to reduce fraud,abuse in public assistance

State Representative Jason Perillo (R-113) has proposed legislation this session of the Connecticut General Assembly aimed at targeting and reducing fraud in the state’s public assistance services. HB 5131, An Act Establishing Safeguards Against Improper Use of State-Administered Cash Assistance, would crack down on the illegal use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards which allow state welfare departments to issue benefits to recipients via magnetically encoded payment cards.

“Being serious about the current budget conditions in this state means taking seriously the fraud and abuse of benefits we intend to provide to those in need,” said Rep. Perillo.  “Such fraud and abuse is a theft from the state, its people and those needy individuals who depend on this assistance to get by. One of the chief ways of detecting such fraud is determining which of these cards is used outside the state, as they are often illegally traded and sold to people living in other states, and sometimes other countries.”

Perillo’s proposal would monitor, and when abuse is suspected, prevent the use of these EBT cards outside the territorial limits of the State of Connecticut.  He has requested data from the state’s Department of Social Services on the use of these EBT cards outside of Connecticut, but has yet to receive that information.

“Other states track, collect and review this kind of data concerning the use of these cards and it is time the State of Connecticut did so as well,” Perillo added.  “Having quantitative data on the occurrence is half of the battle.  Prohibiting the use of these cards outside of the state is the critical first step in eliminating trafficking of these benefit cards.”

Perillo’s bill has been referred to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Human Services and awaits action there.

The State Department of Social Services has a welfare fraud hotline.  Those suspecting incidents of client or vendor fraud can call 1-800-842-2155.