Oregon DHS mistakenly sent out thousands of P-EBT cards worth $1.46 million

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) said it accidentally sent out thousands of Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food cards to students who should not have been eligible for them.

DHS said it recovered about $1.32 million of the $1.46 million in funds that were mistakenly sent out.

As part of a temporary program to help children impacted by the pandemic, DHS sent out P-EBT cards to families with children, with each eligible child receiving $391 in food benefits. Those funds were supposed to make up for meals the children would have gotten through school when schools were shut down because of COVID-19.

Children were eligible for the cards if they were eligible for free or reduced lunch or if they were under six years old and received SNAP benefits.

Instead, DHS said it mistakenly sent out cards to people who weren’t eligible — about 3,700 people in total — adding up to about $1.46 million that shouldn’t have been sent out. DHS said it has recovered about $1.32 million of those funds by clearing out the balance on cards that hadn’t been used.

The agency said that anyone who received a card by mistake and spent any of the money on it won’t be required to pay it back.

Oregon DHS said it also mistakenly sent out P-EBT cards to ineligible children in 2021.

EBT cards have also faced scrutiny over security. A KGW investigation in January documented how fraudsters were wiping out food stamps and cash assistance benefits from low-income Oregonians.

In March, Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden called for tougher security for the benefit cards, asking the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to upgrade the cards with smart chip technology, which would make them more difficult for fraudsters to skim.

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