EBT cards that allow state welfare departments to issue benefits via a magnetically encoded payment strip appear to not be working in stores across the country.
Reports from various news agencies and viewers who have contacted News 4 say the cards are being rejected at stores. Many wonder if this has anything to do with the government shutdown and furloughs.
Xerox, the vendor that handles the electronic transactions, said a routine check Saturday afternoon resulted in a system failure, and was not related to the shutdown.
Ohio's cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio's cash system has been fixed, however its electronic benefits transfer card system is still down. All states that use Xerox systems are affected by the outage.
Xerox spokeswoman Karen Arena confirmed via email Saturday afternoon to the Associated Press that some EBT systems are experiencing temporary connectivity issues. She said technical staff is addressing the issue and expects the system to be restored soon.
The company is notifying retailers to go to the manual system, meaning SNAP customers can spend up to $50 until the system is back online. SNAP recipients should call the 800 number on the back of the card, and Xerox will guide them through the purchase process
The Xerox statement:
"During a routine test of our back-up systems Saturday morning, Xerox’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system experienced a temporary shutdown. While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. This disruption impacts EBT beneficiaries who rely on the system for SNAP and WIC. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon. Beneficiaries requiring access to their benefits can work with their local retailers who can activate an emergency voucher system where available. We appreciate our clients’ patience while we work through this outage as quickly as possible."