If you’re a SNAP beneficiary, it is great news for you that Congress passed a law to protect and replace SNAP benefits that were stolen through card skimming, card cloning, and similar methods. The law requires states to replace stolen benefits between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2024, using federal funds and following their state plan. It’s good to know that replacement benefits won’t exceed the actual amount stolen or the household’s benefit allotment for the previous two months, whichever is less.
You might be wondering, what is card skimming? Well, it’s when criminals install illegal devices on ATMs, point-of-sale terminals, or fuel pumps to steal cardholder data and PINs. This can lead to fake debit or credit cards being created and unauthorized purchases being made, costing consumers and financial institutions over $1 billion per year. And your SNAP EBT card is a potential victim of these criminals.
How to Avoid Your Snap Card to Be Cloned or Stolen
To help protect your SNAP benefits EBT Card, there are a few simple tips you can follow. First, avoid using easy-to-guess PINs like 1111, 1234, or 9876. Also, you must not use guessable numbers like your birthday, your year of birth, or any other simple number that criminals would go straight to try. Keep your PIN and card number confidential, and don’t share them with anyone outside your household. It’s even advisable not to share it with anyone at home, beyond your partner, and to keep a copy of the PIN number in a secret spot at home.
When entering your PIN, make sure to cover the keypad to prevent others from seeing it. Be aware of phishing scams and remember that state agencies and EBT processors will never ask for your PIN or card number.Change your PIN regularly, preferably once a month, and check your EBT account frequently for any unauthorized charges. If you notice any suspicious activity, change your PIN immediately and report it to your local SNAP office. And if you think your SNAP benefits were stolen through card skimming, don’t hesitate to contact your local SNAP office.
They’re here to help you and make sure you receive the benefits you’re entitled to. But, in order to help, can state agencies and EBT processors ask for my PIN or card number? Well, the quick answer is short and unmistakable: State agencies and EBT processors should not ask for your PIN or EBT card number. If someone asks you for this information, they may be trying to commit fraud. Therefore, you should always keep those private numbers confidential and not share them with anyone.
If you have any questions or suspect fraud, contact your state SNAP or WIC agency immediately. They will be able to provide you with the necessary information and help you protect your benefits. Remember, your safety is important to us.
The Stolen SNAP Benefits Replacement Calendar
The first replacement for stolen SNAP funds started in December 2022, and in January and February, they kept going for the relief of the struggling families. Now, from March 2023 and forward, the FNS is reviewing and approving state plans for implementation. State plans will stay effective until new FNS regulations on benefit replacements, issued under this new authority, come into work.
FNS is currently exploring different options beyond chip-enabled cards, to make sure your benefits are protected from fraudulent activity like card skimming. The system is slowly moving towards the contactless technology, making it safer for beneficiaries. But, don’t get confused because an EBT card is not a debit card, since they differ. EBT cards are intended for use only by those who qualify for government assistance programs, while debit cards are available to anyone with a bank account.
As you should know so far, the EBT cards can only be used in the authorized retailers or supermarkets, and exclusively for the products that the SNAP system fund. You cannot use your benefits to purchase prepared foods, alcohol, tobacco products, or non-food items like soap and toilet paper. The system is focused into improving the beneficiaries’ health, so fruits, vegetables and related goods are suitable to be purchased using the EBT card.
If you have any questions about your benefits or how to use your EBT card, be sure to speak with your caseworker or contact your state’s SNAP or WIC program.