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Stores don’t want pictures on Illinois food-stamp cards

By   /   March 8, 2013  /   10 Comments

Part 4 of 15 in the series Welfare Abuse
OUT OF THE PICTURE: Stores oppose efforts to add photo ID to government benefits cards, but they'd still like the cash.

OUT OF THE PICTURE: Stores oppose efforts to add photo ID to government benefits cards, but they’d still like the cash.

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD  —  Another attempt to fight fraud by putting ID photos on Illinois’ food stamp cards looks doomed, but not because of political opposition inside the Capitol.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is making it clear to lawmakers that the gas stations, grocery stores, local shops don’t want to deal with the headaches or possible legal nightmare that might be created by adding pictures to LINK cards.

“Federal regulations require that stores treat SNAP customers no different than anyone else,” Robb Carr the executive vice president with the retail merchants said.

SNAP is the federal food assistance program, in Illinois SNAP recipients use a LINK card to buy their groceries.

“If you require a photo ID for a LINK card, then clerks across the state have to ask for ID anytime anyone wants to buy almost anything,” Carr added.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he does not want to create headaches for local stores, but he does want to crack down on fraud.

“The people I hear from most are the grocery clerks,” Rose said. “I had a gal in Chicago call me up and say she had two people using four cards, one for each from both Illinois and Indiana.”

Rose said he also hears from police and prosecutors who say they find LINK cards at drub houses all the time.

“In my area, the going rate for LINK cards is 50 cents on the dollar,” Rose added. “When you’re handing someone a couple hundred bucks a month, of taxpayer dollars, to go get their fix that isn’t helping them.”

Rose said he thought his proposal would be an easy way for clerks, at the point of sale, to make sure that the person using the LINK card is supposed to be using that card. The legislation would cover family members or care givers, Rose said that is a no-brainer.

But the legislation likely will never become law.

The Illinois Senate assigned Rose’s plan to a sub-committee, which is the same as being shelved for two years.

Senate Human Service Committee Chairwoman, state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, said Rose’s plan will eventually get a hearing. But she is clear she won’t support the plan.

“I don’t like the idea, a person is likely already embarrassed that they must accept food stamps,” Hunter said adding their picture is an attempt to shame LINK card holders.

Hunter also questions how much money it would cost the state to add pictures to LINK cards. U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers from October of 2012 show over 2 million people in Illinois received SNAP benefits.

Carr with the retailers said if Illinois wants to get photo ID’s attached to LINK card, lawmakers in Springfield should start by asking those in Washington to change the rules for everyone.

You can contact Benjamin Yount at [email protected]



Part of 15 in the series Welfare Abuse


Ben formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • bigtimeMark

    While all attempts should be made to eradicate food stamp fraud, I could see why the local stores are against this measure of placing photos on the cards.


  • Mr b

    People on link are not embarrassed. I live and work at a retail drug chain based out of Deerfield Illinois and these people are taking advantage of the system. There are some that need it. But I see teachers that are working bragging that they make 60 an hour and are using a link card. I see couples that are not married in the United States but are in other counties tell the wic and link programs they are single parents and bam they get the public aid
    They have iPhones Nike shoe for they kids drive nice cars and sit at home getting spending money bill money and rent on secretion 8.
    If you want to see more waste. Look at how much we spend on section 8.
    This state is so messed up. Thank you elected officials. Your covered for life. Hope f—king the tax payers over made you happy

  • What’s
    the matter with a person beings embarrassed that they must accept food stamps.
    It’s a lot more important to control fraud!

  • Max

    Funny how it’s only Republican legislators who are getting reports about alleged frauds.

    I doubt that if anybody’s trying to game the system, they’re doing it by picking up the high-priced groceries at Walgreens. F

    Yeah, some people who use Link have iPhones. I know quite a few of them, in fact. All of them were people who used to have good jobs and don’t anymore, because they got laid off and haven’t been able to find another job. They didn’t choose to sell their used phones for the pittance they could get for them. They don’t have landlines anymore. They’re sleeping on their “nice” cars, and they need the phone so they can have a number to put on their resumes.

    Let’s just make the process of giving people enough to eat so shaming that people choose to starve to death instead.

  • spin43

    The more on SNAP welfare the better for these businesses. They cannot look into the future and see the big picture. I do understand their fear of the legal system.

  • someone careing

    Any one embarsed should not get it I do not think it will not maake anymore work for store how much trouble is it to just to look at the card they should be able to tell if it is that person they wouldent need another id and people that get wick have to hold line up to ring up things seprate and sign paper I think that is more work than looking at a card I like the picture idea

  • mosloehand

    I am embarrassed if my Picture ID is checked for booze or smokes that don’t bother them does it, No its State Law, I have to show Picture ID to cash a check is that fair. The problems that most of these stores are as crooked as the people using the cards. What should be done is limiting purchases in these stores to bread and milk instead of pizzas and a couple gallons of coke and a handful of candy bars.

  • To help fight the stigma against using food stamps. There is new product out in the market called food stamps skins which allow people to personalize their EBT card and protect their privacy! you can check it out here http://www.foodstampscovers.com ..

  • John

    You can personalize the EBT card so it doesn’t have to look like a food stamps card to protect your privacy. I think its called food stamps skin or you can check out this website. http://www.foodstampscovers.com

  • Nicholas Duff

    I opted to have my photograph on my debit card for the increased security, and for that reason, I don’t have to show ID at the retailers that otherwise require it. I honestly wouldn’t mind the same level of security being added to government benefit cards.