Computer error, not shutdown, likely cause of EBT card failures - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Official: EBT card systems now up and running

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(RNN) - Most people who shop for groceries using EBT cards should be able to use them again, according to representatives for the company responsible for the failures that happened in 17 states Saturday.

Xerox, a vendor for the EBT system in several states, experienced a power outage while conducting a routine backup test in one of the company's locations.

Xerox spokeswoman Karen Arena told USA TODAY on Saturday evening the system was back up, but some states could still experience connectivity issues.

People in Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Louisiana and Virginia were among those that could not purchase groceries and other goods with the cards, which act similar to bank debit cards. A total of 17 states had been affected by the problem, according to the Associated Press.

The government shutdown did not appear to be a factor.

Fears that the partial shutdown, caused by Congress' failure to pass a spending bill, was responsible may have been spurred by the USDA's webpage for EBT. It states, "Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available."

EBT cards allow people to use funds issued through the SNAP program, commonly referred to as food stamps, to purchase approved goods.

The government shutdown, ongoing since Oct. 1, could affect SNAP, WIC and other welfare programs if it continues. However, federal officials stated money for those programs should be available until at least the end of the month.

The widespread outage came despite each state running their own version of the welfare program. The federal government does supply funding and guidelines to the states.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services issued a statement early Saturday evening saying some stores in the state that accept EBT payments were operational again with more expected within a few hours.

WLOX out of Biloxi, MS, relayed the newsroom had gotten many phone calls from people who said their cards were denied. Representatives from grocery stores in Alabama said people with full shopping carts left frustrated and empty-handed when their EBT cards would not work.

An employee at a Huntsville, AL, Walmart said she had been told a power outage related to the system was the reason. Cleveland, OH, station WOIO reported a problem with the EBT system was the source, according to an area retailer.

In Michigan, WOOD reported the problem had to do with a system update on the retailers' end, according to Michigan Department of Human Services. A retail store in Grand Rapids, MI, announced its system was running again.

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