SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A bill by state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, aimed at addressing the theft of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, is headed to the governor’s desk after unanimously passing both houses of the General Assembly.

“That protecting the most vulnerable people and families in our state is critically important should go without saying,” Harper said. “Sadly, theft of SNAP benefits that can deprive needy families, including children, of their access to proper nutrition have been a persistent and increasing problem. It’s past time that something was done.”

SNAP benefits are also sometimes referred to as “food stamps”. In recent years, food stamps have been issued to recipients using a debit-card system where benefits are loaded onto the recipient’s card. Thieves have targeted food stamp recipients by using devices (called “skimmers”) that are covertly inserted into payment machines at food retailers to steal card information, or devices that can need only be held near a victim’s wallet in order to remotely copy the information necessary to make a “clone” of the victim’s benefit card which the thief can then use. This type of benefits theft has been on the rise, and authorities have struggled to address it.

Victims of SNAP theft generally do not have their benefits replaced, meaning that recipients whose benefits are stolen often end up struggling to buy food until their next installment.

Harper’s House Bill 2214 would require the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to track and collect data as to the scope and frequency of SNAP benefits fraud, especially when it occurs by means of skimming or cloning. Beginning in 2024, IDHS would be required to report its findings to the General Assembly quarterly.

Harper’s original bill included a requirement that IDHS replace victims’ stolen benefits, but this measure was removed by a Senate amendment.

“This legislation represents a solid first step in addressing this pressing issue. Going forward, it will be necessary to do more to make victims of SNAP benefits theft whole again,” Harper said. “Nevertheless, IDHS as well as my fellow lawmakers and I can now look forward to having much more robust information about this problem and how and where it is occurring, which is sure to help us craft smart policies to address it.”

Harper’s office is reachable at 773-925-6580 or repsonyaharper@gmail.com.

Rep. Sonya HarperRep. Sonya Harper

6th District

Visit Rep Harper’s website

Springfield Office:
274-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5971

District Office:
4926 South Ashland
Chicago, IL  60609
(773) 925-6580
(773) 925-6584 FAX