EPIC Spotlights Pondera’s Fraud Detection Algorithms for Public Benefits

July 5, 2022

Governments across the country are using algorithms in an attempt to detect fraud in public benefits programs. As part of EPIC’s Screening and Scoring Project, EPIC is taking an in-depth look into Pondera Solutions, one of many companies touting to “predict” and “prevent” fraud. Today, EPIC posted several documents and analysis about the use of Pondera in several states.

Agencies contract with Pondera for fraud prediction software that scores applicants based on their likelihood of committing fraud. The software draws from data collected by social media scrapers, data brokers, location servicers, credit reporting agencies, and government databases. Pondera is a subsidiary of Thomson Reuters, a controversial data broker that contracts with law enforcement agencies. Pondera offers free trials of Thomson Reuter’s CLEAR and License Plate Recognition services as an incentive in its government contracts.

The scope of Pondera’s relationship with agencies and the effectiveness of Pondera’s software is still unclear. Based on open records requests and research, EPIC has compiled what we know so far about Pondera’s predictive tools as well as several concerns about how these fraud detection tools are used. EPIC previously published records from D.C. Department of Human Services about its contract with Pondera. EPIC will continue to update its spotlight page with relevant analysis and any new documents produced from open records requests.

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