20090321

Problem ID: 2891499617597123435
Entered by: Ben Simo
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Fleeing Felon


Economic times are tough. Now, imagine you recently became part of your state's nearly 8 percent unemployment rate. You hope what is left of your meager savings (which is now worth less than you've invested) and the small severance pay out will last until you find a new job.

However, finding new employment proves more difficult than you anticipated. You eventually decide that you must swallow your pride and request government assistance during your personal economic downturn. You do the calculations and submit the required forms to receive food stamps to help feed your family.

You anxiously await the arrival of the first month's benefits. You find an envelope from the state in your mailbox. You excitedly open it, expecting to find your food stamp card. Your excitement wanes as you read the header on the letter: "Notice of Decision". The letter explains that you are ineligible for food stamps because you are a "fleeing felon".

What!? A fleeing felon? Not only are you down on your luck, but now the government has labeled you a criminal -- or at least their computer has.

You are not a felon, and you are definitely not fleeing. You've given your name and location to more government agencies, bill collectors, and prospective employers in the past few months than in the preceding decade.

You spend the day worrying, fuming, and making phone calls with no consolation. Then your phone rings. It is the state calling. It turns out that a computer coding error led to over 200 food stamp recipients being incorrectly informed they are fleeing felons. The state doesn't think you are a felon, and you will be getting your food stamp benefits.

Now, you wonder if the state will pay for the treatment of your anxiety.

Seem absurd? Well, this happened in Maine earlier this month. Check out Computer Glitch Lists Food Stamp Recipients As Felons.

Sometimes small technical problems can have a huge impact on the emotions of people.

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