Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C-Brooklyn, Staten Island) recently voiced her support for New York City’s requirement of electronic fingerprinting for food stamp recipients, a crucial component to stamping out fraud and abuse in the social service system, and urged the city to retain the policy.
The Human Resources Administration has noted that fingerprinting prevents roughly 1,900 duplicate applications from being accepted each year, saving the taxpayer approximately $5 million annually. In 2007, New York State lifted the requirement of fingerprinting food stamp recipients, leaving the policy in tact only in the City of New York, where 1.8 million people receive food stamps. The food stamp program in New York City comes at the cost of $3 billion to taxpayers.
Malliotakis says, “Instead of our government looking to remove the policy for New York City, we should instead be looking to reinstate this policy for the entire state. Government owes it to our taxpayers to ensure that our social service programs are benefiting the neediest New Yorkers, and not wasted by people seeking to defraud the system.”
“In times of fiscal crisis, government must take every step possible to make sure every penny is being spent appropriately. Preventing food stamp fraud not only saves taxpayer money, but it ensures that the limited resources we have are reaching the people that truly need and deserve these benefits,” added Malliotakis. “It is government’s responsibility to provide effective programs at a low cost to the taxpayer, and fingerprinting food stamp applicants accomplishes both of these tasks.”
New York City makes up 60% of the state’s food stamp caseload. Methods for combating fraud in other states include requiring applicants to answer identity verification questions to be compared with information in their data system. This procedure would be more costly and time-consuming, requiring the applicant to provide a credit or other documentation.