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1:11 PM

You Actually Can Save Money Paying with Plastic on Black Friday

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As the Lobster takes a break from detailing the recently completed EBT-the Next Generation conference, he along with his many followers, turns his attention, to the upcoming holidays.

Black Friday shoppers can save $500 or more, according to our friends at WalletHub, by shopping with one of the cards on their list of 2016's Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping, which you can find at Happy Holidays and Shopping.

Economic soldiers, let's lift this economy. Get out there and shop. Fill that mall parking garage. Double-time through the mall hallways. Knock over those mall walkers. If they don't buy anything they are not contributing to the economy. A stiff forearm will remind them of their civic duty to spend. The more they spend the more jobs they will create for the rest of us.

The WalletHub list details the cards with the best bonuses to offset holiday spending, the cards with the best ongoing rewards programs, the best cards for avoiding interest, the best cards for lowering the cost of post-holiday debt, and the best store cards.

11:26 AM

Fraud and the SNAP Program

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On November 7th, I enjoyed moderating Front Page Focus, my signature panel, at EBT the Next Generation, the premier conference dedicated to exploring electronic-benefits transfer applications and technology.  This was my 17th Front Page Focus in the 19 years of the conference.

This year, Front Page Focus delved into the issue of fraud  in the SNAP (nee food stamp) Program.

To provide a 360 degree, non-partisan, factual examination of the topic I put together a panel consisting of a representatives of the Office of Public Benefits Integrity of the Florida Department of Children and Families, which  uses technology like data analytics to find patterns of fraud in benefit programs, the Electronic Funds Transfer Association, a trade association with a long history of supporting EBT in the SNAP program, and the Food Research and Action Center, group that lobbies on behalf of participants in nutrition programs and other anti-hunger issues, and Xerox State and Local Solutions, a major supplier of EBT services to state governments. 

Topics we covered included:

  • How serious a problem is fraud in the SNAP program. Answers ranged from “A single dollar lost to fraud is a dollar to much” to “Stories about fraud represent a small fraction of the total amount of benefits issued.

    • The anti-fraud technology baked into EBT systems. These include constant electronic monitoring of retail sales made with SNAP benefits. 

      • What state and federal lawmakers are saying about fraud in the SNAP Program.

        • The interest of State agencies in anti-fraud technology.

          3:24 PM

          EBT the Next Generation

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          Having recently participated in the 19th annual EBT the Next Generation conference which dissects the use of debit-card technology for the disbursement of government-to-consumer payments, I offer the following retrospective on the conference.

          We were proud to display our new Chaddsford Planning Associates exhibit-booth graphics designed by Rothacker Advertising and Design of Media, Pa. Rothacker was able to play off my EBT experience dating back to the first EBT project in Reading, Pa, comparing the many EBT projects that have followed Reading to the Big Bang Theory.  The graphics were innovative and eye-catching.

          The conference theme was how technology can help help combat fraud in federally funded nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly called the food stamp program).  I was proud to lead a plenary panel discussion of the subject. My chosen panelists included representatives of the State of Florida, which uses data analytics to find anomalies in disbursement patterns, the Electronic Funds Transfer Association, a trade association the members of which develop and operate electronic-payment systems, the Food Research and Action Center, a national anti-hunger group that supports EBT for its ability to improve the disbursement of nutrition benefits like SNAP, and Xerox, a leading developer and operator of EBT systems.

          We also presented our annual Pioneer Award to John Wojcik, a long-time payment industry veteran and a co-founder of the conference. John was so honored for his role selling the concept of EBT to Program Directors in all the states and territories. This included parachuting into all the state capitals with nothing more than a vision of replacing paper checks and food stamps with electronic transactions, a much less expensive and more dignified way of disbursing benefits.

          By any measure, this year's EBT the Next Generation was a rousing success, with record attendance and sponsorship and forward-facing sessions on topics like mobility and EBT, and EMV, and a Technology Showcase,  highlighting how technologies like biometrics can help in the fight against fraud.
          12:21 PM

          2016 Election Trivia

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          Election Day Trivia

          Most but not all of the following is courtesy of our friends at WalletHub.

          Defensive Voting. 46.5 percent of voters questioned say they their main objective in voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is to prevent the election of the other candidate.

          Hillary Clinton earned nearly 22 million in fees for speaking to a variety of audiences from 2013 to 2015. That covers 92 speeches and works out to an average of almost 240,000 per speech. They must have been electrifying speeches. Too bad the public can’t get a look at them.

          32 states this election cycle have voter ID laws.