Technical Glitch Causes EBT System Outages - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Technical Glitch Causes EBT System Outages

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UPDATE: Xerox announced late Saturday night its electronic benefits system is up and running again in the 17 states where food stamp recipients use debit-style cards to access their accounts.
 
Glitches prevented the cards from being used in Iowa, Illinois and 15 other states.
 
See below for original story posted Oct 12, 2013 6:55 PM CDT

Thousands of families across our area have found themselves unable to buy groceries because of a computer glitch.

It is a problem with the Electronic Benefits Transfer system.

A vendor doing a routine check experienced a temporary system shutdown. That means people in 17 states, including Iowa and Illinois, can't access their benefits and can't buy food for dinner.

We have heard from a number of TV 6 viewers who have been impacted by the EBT outages.

Everyone seemed to have a similar story:

They were out Saturday morning or afternoon doing their weekend grocery shopping at stores across the QCA, and then, when they tried paying for their cart full of food with their EBT card, a message came up at the register saying "system error."

Folks who found themselves in that situation say they are confused and frustrated.

Many say they rely on the EBT program to provide their families with fresh and healthy food that can be expensive.

"It definitely helps when it comes to - I want to buy a lot of fresh produce and good stuff for my kid to eat and not junk," said Carolyn, a young, pregnant mother who uses her EBT card to pay for groceries.

"The food stamps that they do give me come in handy because I have a 15-year-old son living here with me. He's 15 and eats anything that moves, that he can catch. So what they do give me with the food stamps helps out a lot with the groceries," agreed Keith Wilson, a father who is on disability.

Fortunately, these families say they have neighbors and family members who are stepping up to help in the meantime. Others, they worry, are not as fortunate.

A spokesman with the Illinois Department of Human Services says this is a "really bad situation".

Meanwhile, Iowa officials say they have an emergency plan in place and are issuing vouchers.

The EBT system vendor company, owned by Xerox, says customers should be able to call the number on the back of their cards or work with retailers to activate emergency voucher systems.

Xerox released a statement on the situation:

"...Some of the EBT system is experiencing temporary connectivity issues. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon."

A USDA spokesperson confirms that EBT cards stopped working because of a vendor's technical issue, saying in a statement, "The vendor is working to fix that and cards will work again once it's resolved."

"This issue is not related to the government shutdown," the USDA spokesman said.