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Food Stamp Debit Cards Again Active After Computer Problem

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Sample SNAP card (Courtesy DSS)

Sample SNAP card (Courtesy DSS)

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Clients of the Connecticut Department of Social Services and similar agencies in nine other states were not  able to access their food stamp benefits using the debit-style card now used for the program  for several hours Friday morning, into Friday afternoon.   DSS says it was notified shortly before 2 p.m. that service had been restored.

The Department says it was notified by J.P. Morgan Electronical Financial Services,  the company which operates the system,  that it was having computer problems in distribution of public assistance benefits. The problem meant that people who receive food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,  or cash assistance programs,  can not currently access those benefits.  It’s not clear how long the outage might last

Besides Connecticut,  the problem is affecting benefits recipients in New York, Florida, Indiana, South Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania (as well as U.S. Virgin Islands.)

By KELLI KENNED,   Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) _ Millions of food stamp recipients in 10 states were
unable to use their debit cards for about six hours Friday after an
outage at JPMorgan Chase.

Bank spokesman Mike Fusco apologized for the inconvenience and
said the technical glitch was resolved around 1 p.m. Friday, but he
declined to discuss details of what exactly went wrong.
Bank officials said the outage affected 10 states: Florida, New
York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky,
Connecticut, West Virginia, Delaware. It also hit the U.S. Virgin
Islands.

“All customers can now use their SNAP, food stamps and other
cash benefit cards after we resolved the technical issues,” Fusco
told The Associated Press.

Angry users took to social media to express their frustration in
the busy grocery shopping days before Thanksgiving.

One woman tweeted, “They have about 50 signs on Publix door
saying the (hash)EBT machine is down for Ga!!!”

“Five of these states were severely impacted by superstorm
Sandy just weeks ago, causing significant hardship for many
low-income families. We are deeply concerned about this outage and
will continue monitoring the situation,” said Kevin Concannon, an
undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Some stores, including Wal-Mart, agreed to handle manual
transactions to accommodate customers.

Fusco stressed the outage did not affect regular debit, credit
or other card holders.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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