The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, distribute its funds onto the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that every recipient get when they’re approved for the benefits. This payment method could be used to purchase a wide range of food items at authorized retail stores and farmers’ markets.
Despite its positive impact, the SNAP program is not without challenges, particularly in regard to fraudulent activities targeting EBT cards. Various scams have emerged in recent years, exploiting the vulnerabilities of the system. There are at least five known scams you should watch for when using your EBT card.
The most common scams targeting your SNAP benefits’ card
Phishing scams are a common form of cyber fraud, where scammers attempt to obtain personal or card information to gain unauthorized access to EBT funds. These fraudsters employ various phishing attacks to target EBT cardholders. One particularly effective method involves sending victims emails or text messages, falsely claiming that they qualify for a $300 bonus through a government initiative, such as the now closed COVID relief.
The message urges recipients to click on a link and provide their card details for verification. The link redirects the person to a fake website designed to mimic the official EBT portal. There, they are prompted to enter their first and last name, address, card number, and PIN. Unfortunately, unsuspecting victims unknowingly share this sensitive information, allowing the attackers to use it for online shopping and other malicious activities.
Fraud is not limited to online activities; it can also occur through in-person interactions, and this type of financial deception has been happening for many years. The criminals might approach the individuals and offer, for example, $100 in cash if you buy them $120 worth of groceries.
Also watch out for the card skimming methods. These bad people might install card skimmers installed at ATMs, or at card readers in retail stores, with the purpose of capturing sensitive data from individuals’ cards. This stolen data is then used for unauthorized transactions. These kinda machines could also clone your card, and they use it to purchase without your permission.
Claiming your stolen SNAP benefits is now possible
On July 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition has given its approval for a significant rule change that will bring hope to many individuals. If you are receiving SNAP benefits and have experienced the unfortunate situation of having your EBT accounts skimmed, cloned, or defrauded, there is good news.
Under the new guidelines, you can now apply to have your lost funds replaced within a specific time frame, ensuring that you won’t be left to face such challenges alone. The process is simple yet effective: just report the loss of your SNAP funds to the caring Division of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS). From there, you will have 10 business days to make a claim for replacement, offering you a safety net when you need it the most.
They will be accepting claims about benefits stolen from October 1, 2022, through July 20, 2023. Go to the official USDA website here, and start your application, in order to get your stolen funds replaced.