OTDA Home Working Families EBT Scam Alert
Learn about scams targeted at Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders and how you can protect your benefits.
Types of Scams
Your benefits can be stolen through scams like skimming and phishing.
- Card skimming scams directly copy 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 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and 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.
If Your Benefits Have Been Stolen
If you believe your card and benefits have been stolen, take the following steps immediately:
- Contact EBT Customer Service to report your card stolen and change your PIN—by calling 888-328-6399, by visiting www.connectebt.com, or through the Connect EBT mobile app.
- Contact your local department of social services' fraud unit to notify them that your benefits have been stolen.
- Contact local law enforcement to file a police report.
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, these things are flimsy, and they 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 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 agency 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.
- Avoid choosing a PIN that is easy to guess, such as repeated or consecutive numbers. For example, avoid choosing a PIN of “2222” or “1234”.
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 illegally 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, by visiting www.connectebt.com, or through the Connect EBT mobile app.
Monitor Your EBT Account Regularly
- If you identify any suspicious activity, report your card stolen and change your PIN immediately to stop the thief from making any more purchases. Contact law enforcement and your local department of social services' fraud unit as soon as possible.
New federal rules allow the replacement of SNAP benefits to be issued in certain circumstances where SNAP benefits are stolen through electronic means (card skimming, cloning, or other similar fraudulent methods such as phishing).
New York State recently received federal approval to replace stolen SNAP benefits in certain circumstances and is finalizing the processes necessary to issue replacement benefits.
An application for replacement of stolen SNAP benefits will be made available once the replacement processes are in place.
Beginning in late June 2023, OTDA will update this webpage with information on the process and timeline for impacted households to apply for replacement benefits and what types of benefits may be eligible for replacement.
In the meantime, if you believe your benefits have been stolen, immediately report your card stolen, change your PIN, and report the theft to your local department of social services.