Consumer Alert: What to do if you’re a victim of SNAP skimming

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — This consumer alert is an urgent warning for anyone with SNAP benefits. News10NBC has been investigating how thieves are using skimming devices to steal money off EBT cards.

Unfortunately, EBT Cards are far more vulnerable to theft than other credit and debit cards because they don’t have a chip. They only have a magnetic strip which forces users to swipe your card. And that’s how thieves steal your money.

News10NBC obtained security video from a store in Penfield in which his thief clips on a face-plate over the point of sale terminal his face plate looks exactly like the terminal, so most customers wouldn’t notice. And when you swipe your card, the thief can easily collect that information. But if EBT cards had a chip, it would far more difficult to steal your money, so says Ali Solehdin, Chief Product and Strategy Officer for Inetco, a cybersecurity software company.

“They’re really easy to replicate and really simple to get information off of. Chip cards have all of their data encrypted on them,” said Solehdin. “Anything that the states can do to protect the most vulnerable in society but also to protect taxpayer dollars needs to be done.”

Thursday, Monroe County sent out a warning about the thefts and say that they are expediting replacement applications.

More than 60,000 people in Monroe County depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to put food on their tables each month.

According to the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, more than $20,000 claims of snap skimming totaling more than $16 million were reported January of 2022 through July of this year. And that’s not all. Twelve thousand claims of public assistance skimming, totaling more than $4 million in stolen funds, were reported during the same period.

The USDA, the federal agency that oversees the food assistance program, is currently testing security measures.

For example, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Illinois were chosen to test a mobile snap program, allowing them to pay by scanning their phones. And the USDA is working with some states that are considering issuing chip cards. The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance oversees are snap program so I asked what New York is doing to protect your benefits. A spokesman would only say the office is working with the USDA to identify options to further enhance the security of EBT cards.

A new federal law was passed allowing you to get reimbursed if your funds were stolen on or after October first of 2022. Anyone who has their benefits stolen should immediately contact the EBT Customer Service Helpline to report their card stolen and request a replacement EBT card by:

  • Calling 1-888-328-6399
  • Visiting ConnectEBT
  • Through the ConnectEBT mobile app
  • After reporting their EBT card stolen and requesting a replacement card, they can apply for replacement benefits,

Those in Monroe County looking to get replacement benefits will need to visit Monroe County Social Services on St. Paul Street and file an application.