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Last updated: May 19, 2024, 4:33 PM

EBT Scam Alert

OTDA Home Working Families EBT Scam Alert

Overview

Learn about scams targeted at Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders, how you can protect your benefits, and how to have stolen Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance (TA) cash benefits replaced.

New federal and state rules allow certain SNAP and TA cash benefits to be replaced if they have been stolen through electronic means (card skimming, cloning, third party misrepresentation or other similar fraudulent methods such as phishing).

EBT Card Freeze

Use the new freeze/unfreeze card feature to help you secure your EBT card and protect your benefits from scam-related theft.

If Your Benefits Have Been Stolen

Immediately contact EBT Customer Service Helpline to report your card stolen and request a replacement EBT card by:

  • calling 1-888-328-6399
  • visiting www.ebtEDGE.com
  • or through the ebtEDGE mobile app

After you have reported your EBT card stolen and requested a replacement card, you can apply for replacement benefits. If you already received a replacement card since your benefits were stolen, you do not need to replace your card again. If you do not report your EBT card stolen before you apply for a replacement benefit, the local department of social services will deactivate your EBT card and issue a replacement card to you.

Eligibility for Replacement Benefits

Before applying for replacement benefits, review the following important information:

  • Benefits must have been stolen electronically through skimming, cloning or phishing.
  • Benefits can only be replaced up to two times per federal fiscal year, which is October 1 to September 30.
  • The law limits benefit replacements to the lesser of:
    • the amount that was stolen, or
    • two (2) times the SNAP and/or TA cash benefits received in the last full month of issuance before benefits were stolen.
  • Even if your SNAP or TA case has closed since benefits were stolen, you may still be eligible for replacement benefits.

SNAP benefits:

  • May be eligible for replacement if the date of theft is on or after October 1, 2022.
  • SNAP benefits considered eligible for replacement include:
    • regular, ongoing SNAP
    • restored, replacement or retroactive issuances
    • Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP)
    • and supplemental Emergency Allotments (EA)
  • Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) food benefits are not SNAP benefits and are NOT eligible to be replaced.

TA cash benefits:

  • May be eligible for replacement if the date of theft is on or after January 1, 2022.
  • TA cash benefits considered eligible for replacement include:
    • Family Assistance (FA)
    • Safety Net Assistance (SN-FP)
    • Safety Net Cash Assistance (SN-CSH)
    • Safety Net Non-Cash Assistance (SN-FNP)
    • Emergency Safety Net Assistance (ESNA)
    • and Emergency Assistance to Families (EAF)
  • Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund (PEAF) payments are NOT eligible for replacement.

How to Apply

You must apply for replacement benefits. You only need to complete one application for replacement of SNAP and/or TA cash benefits. Follow instructions below to complete and submit the application.

  1. Gather Information — To file an application for replacement benefits you will need:

    • Your case number and client identification number (CIN).

    • The date, location, and amount of any fraudulent transactions you see in your EBT transaction history. These are transactions that you or your household did not make. They could be in stores, online, and even states you never visited.

      There are two ways to get and review your EBT transaction history:

  2. Complete & Submit an Application

    New York City

    If you received benefits in New York City (NYC) at the time of theft, you must submit your claim form to NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA).

    If you cannot apply online, you can apply using a paper claim form. To get a paper form, you can:

    • Print a claim form at nyc.gov/HRA, or
    • Call the Infoline 718-557-1399 and request a form be mailed to you
    • Visit a local HRA Center to request, complete, or submit a form

    Mail a completed paper claim form to:

    Department of Social Services
    P.O. Box 02-9121
    Brooklyn GPO, Brooklyn, NY  11202

    All Other Counties (Outside of NYC)

    If you received benefits from any county outside of NYC at the time of theft, you must submit a paper application to the local department of social services where you currently live. Please note, there is no online application for counties outside of New York City.

Application Deadlines

SNAP benefits:
Date Stolen Applications MUST be Submitted by:
October 1, 2022 — August 21, 2023 April 1, 2024 (or 30 days from the date you discovered benefits were stolen, whichever is later)
On or after August 22, 2023 30 days from the date you discovered benefits were stolen
TA cash benefits:
Date Stolen Applications MUST be Submitted by:
January 1, 2022 — August 21, 2023 April 1, 2024 (or 30 days from the date you discovered benefits were stolen, whichever is later)
On or after August 22, 2023 30 days from the date you discovered benefits were stolen

Once you submit your application, local departments of social services have 30 days to determine eligibility for replacement benefits, process applications and issue benefits. You will receive a notice telling you the outcome of the determination.

Types of Scams

It is important to understand how EBT benefits can be stolen, and ways to protect your benefits. Read this important information to help keep your EBT card and benefits safe.

Your benefits can be stolen through electronic scams like skimming and phishing.

  • Card skimming directly copies card and personal identification number (PIN) information from EBT cardholders using a device (skimmers) placed on top of a store's card reading machine. The stolen data is used to access your EBT account and spend your SNAP and TA cash benefits. Skimming can happen anywhere you swipe your EBT card, including automated teller machines (ATMs).
  • Phishing scams appear as official and legitimate emails, text messages, or phone calls that try to get you to disclose information about you or your EBT card. Thieves can use this information to access your account and spend your SNAP and cash benefits.

Protect Your Benefits

Inspect the card reading machine before you use it.

Skimmers are designed to look like the card reading machine that they fit over and will likely be difficult to notice. However, there are some signs that may indicate that a skimmer is being used, including:

  • Some block LED indicator lights or illuminated backlit keypad numbers, or partially cover stylus/pen trays.
  • The faceplate may be loose, appear ill-fitting, or be easily dislodged from the body of the machine.
  • The faceplate may be miscolored, texturally mismatched, or otherwise appear different than the body of the card reading machine.

The easiest way to check for a skimmer is to gently pull up on the terminal. They are flimsy and will come right off.

If you notice any signs that a skimmer may be in use do not swipe your card and alert the store manager. Contact the police and notify your local department of social services as soon as possible.

Protect Your Card and PIN Information

  • Do not share your personal identification number (PIN) with anyone that you do not want to use your account. New York State, county, and EBT staff will never ask you to share your PIN. If someone asks you to tell them your PIN, assume it is a scam.
  • Never write your PIN on your card or on the card sleeve.
  • If you need someone outside your household to access your EBT benefits on your behalf, contact your local department of social services about naming an Authorized Representative on your case.
  • Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
  • Never let anyone, even a store cashier, see you enter your PIN at a machine.
  • You cannot choose a PIN that contains repeated or consecutive numbers, such as a PIN of “2222” or “1234”. Choose a PIN that is difficult to guess.

Change Your PIN Frequently

If you change your PIN after every transaction, anyone attempting to steal your benefits will no longer have the correct information to access your account.

You may change your PIN at most local departments of social services offices, Benefit Access Centers, or with the help of EBT Customer Service - by calling 888-328-6399 or by visiting www.ebtEDGE.com.

Monitor Your EBT Account Regularly

Check your EBT transactions frequently for any suspicious transactions. If you believe your benefits have been stolen, report that your EBT card has been stolen and request a new card.

EBT Card Freeze

Use the new freeze/unfreeze card feature to help you secure your EBT card and protect your benefits from scam-related theft through the ebtEDGE mobile app.

You can freeze your EBT card when it is not in use and then unfreeze the card to make a purchase. Freezing your card is easy. Follow these four simple steps:

  1. Open www.ebtEDGE.com or download the ebtEDGE app on your mobile device (available on the: Google Play Store and Apple App Store).
  2. Securely log in to your account.
  3. Tap the new “Freeze/Unfreeze Card” icon on the home screen.
  4. Select “Freeze My Card Everywhere” and click “OK.”

Freezing your EBT card will block all purchases, balance inquiries, and transactions. Whenever you go shopping, use the ebtEDGE app to unfreeze your card and freeze it again after you check out.

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