SNAP benefit fraud by card skimming, card cloning and other similar methods
The Family and Social Services Administration Division of Family Resources is working closely with our federal partners, SNAP retailers, EBT processors, and other industry experts to protect SNAP benefits and combat SNAP fraud by card skimming, card cloning and other similar methods. Fraud will not be tolerated as SNAP benefit theft victimizes Hoosiers who rely on these benefits to feed their families.
Replacing Stolen SNAP benefits
In late December 2022, Congress passed a law to protect and replace SNAP benefits stolen via card skimming, card cloning, and other similar methods. The law requires states to replace such benefits that were stolen between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2024. States can now use federal funds to provide these replacements following the procedures in their approved state plan. Replacement benefits cannot exceed the actual amount stolen or the household’s benefit allotment amount for the two months immediately preceding the theft, whichever is lesser. Replacements can be done a maximum of twice per Federal Fiscal Year (Oct. 1-Sept 30).
If you believe your benefits have been stolen, please call 317-234-7989 and leave all information requested. Those who ask to be reimbursed to will be required to submit an affidavit that benefits were stolen via the methods noted (skimming, cloning, etc.), rather than sold or given away via shared PIN.
How to report stolen benefits
If you believe your benefits have been stolen, please call 1-317-234-7989 and leave all information requested. Those who ask to be reimbursed to will be required to submit an affidavit that benefits were stolen. The only benefits eligible for replacement are those stolen via skimming/cloning. DFR is not authorized to replace benefits stolen in any other manner.
Reporting steps and timeline note: Timelines apply to complaints received as of Sept. 25, 2023, and later. An existing backlog will be reviewed as soon as possible.
Call 1-317-234-7989 and leave a voicemail with the following required information:
|2||FSSA DFR will call SNAP Recipient to confirm and verify the details of the theft||FSSA DFR||10 Business Days after notifying FSSA DFR of the theft|
|3||Affidavit emailed or mailed to SNAP Recipient attesting to theft of SNAP Benefits||FSSA DFR||Affidavit emailed or mailed to SNAP Recipient 3 Business Days after follow-up|
|4||Affidavit signed by SNAP Recipient and returned to FSSA DFR||SNAP Recipient||N/A|
|5||Affidavit received and processed by FSSA DFR||FSSA DFR||5 Business Days after Receiving Affidavit|
|6||Reimbursement of SNAP Benefits processed||FSSA DFR||5 Business Days after Receiving Affidavit|
If it is determined an individual’s SNAP benefits were stolen via card skimming, card cloning, and other similar methods, a reimbursement will be issued. A decision will be made within 10 days of receiving the completed and signed affidavit days regarding whether benefits will be replaced. A notice will be mailed with a decision. If denied, a reason will be provided, if approved, the amount of approved replacement will be indicated.
Tips and Resources to protect SNAP benefits
- Avoid simple PINs. Number combinations such as 1111, 1234 or 9876 may be easy for others to guess.
- Keep your PIN and card number secret. Do not share your PIN or card number with anyone outside your household. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
- Beware of phishing. State agencies and EBT processors will never call or text to ask for your PIN or card number. Do not respond to calls or text messages requesting EBT card numbers or PIN, etc.
- Change your PIN often. Consider changing your PIN immediately after every use.
- Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you see any, change your PIN right away to stop the thief from making new purchase. Please report if your benefits have been stolen via skimming, cloning, etc. to 1-317-234-7989.
- Inspect point of sale machines/PIN pads regularly (at least daily) to look for tampering.
- Use surveillance cameras to monitor the POS machine/PIN pad and cash register area.
- Do not allow unscheduled service visits.
- Train employees to be aware of suspicious customer behavior.
- Talk to your POS machine/PIN pad provider about the most secure POS equipment for your store and resources to help you prevent card skimming.
- If you find a card skimmer or detect tampering, contact local police, your POS equipment provider, and the USDA Office of Inspector General Hotline at 1-800-424-9121.
Questions and Answers
- How are SNAP benefits skimmed?
Thieves place an illegal device on an ATM or a retailer’s card-swiping machine to copy EBT card information. This is called card skimming. Card skimming can also happen to people using a magnetic stripe to make purchases with a credit or debit card.
Criminals can then use the information to make fake EBT cards. This is called card cloning. Thieves use the fake cards to purchase food and beverages from SNAP-authorized stores using stolen SNAP benefits.
Sophisticated computer programs are also used by criminals to access EBT card numbers and PINS.
- What is the state doing to stop card skimming and protect SNAP recipients?
Indiana is working with USDA/Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and our EBT processor to determine what enhanced card security options are available and how the state can implement those options. We are also working on educating EBT customers and retailers regarding the risks and prevalence of EBT fraud.
- What are the conditions to receive replacement benefits?
Replacement of stolen benefits for a household cannot exceed the lesser of the amount of benefits stolen from the household or the amount equal to two months of the monthly allotment of the household immediately prior to the date when the benefits were stolen.
For example, if a household reports, and an investigation confirms the theft, that it lost $100 on March 1, 2023, because of skimming, and their last allotment was issued on Feb. 10, 2023, for $250 (two months of their last monthly allotment is equal to $500) the household would receive $100 in replacement benefits as it is the lesser of the two. If the same household reports that it lost $600 on March 1, they would receive $500 in replacement benefits. A household may only receive two instances of replacement benefits in each federal fiscal year. The FFY is Oct.1-Sep. 30. State agencies may only complete the act of replacing benefits two times in a FFY, even if an occurrence of theft crosses two FFYs.
If a theft occurs over the course of several transactions and several days, calculations for the amount of replacement benefits will be determined based on the date of the first occurrence of theft. For example, a household receives their $200 monthly allotment on June 15, 2023, but realizes and reports on June 20 that $250 in benefits were stolen in multiple transactions between June 17 and June 18. In this situation, the June 15 allotment is the monthly allotment that took place immediately prior to June 17, the first date of theft. The household would receive the reported $250 loss in replacement benefits, as it is less than two months of the June allotment, which totals $400.
- Is the state working with law enforcement to hold criminals accountable?
The FNS Office of Retailer Operations and Compliance, Special Investigations Unit has responded to numerous complaints of cloned and skimmed SNAP EBT cards throughout the country. FNS supports federal law enforcement by identifying suspicious EBT transactions and sharing locations where thieves are attempting to use cloned cards in real time. Indiana will cooperate with FNS and law enforcement agencies who are investigating complaints of benefits stolen from EBT cards.
- Where is benefit theft happening and how often?
Although we are aware of reports of benefit theft in some areas of the state, DFR currently does not have comprehensive data on the number of incidents; however, DFR is collecting all reported incidents of card skimming to better understand the magnitude of card skimming in Indiana.
- Are any states using SNAP EBT cards with a chip?
No states currently issue SNAP EBT cards with a chip.
- Do stores that participate in SNAP have a separate point-of-sale terminal to accept EBT cards?
No. SNAP EBT payments are generally integrated with other payment systems and use the same POS machine that is used for credit or debit card payments.
- How do I report that my benefits have been stolen?
Please report if your benefits have been stolen via skimming, cloning, etc. to 1-317-234-7989.
- How will I know if my benefits will be replaced?
If we need any follow-up information, we will contact you using the phone number that you provided. Once a decision is made, you will receive a notice in the mail. If your claim is denied, a reason for denial will be provided. If the claim is approved, the amount of replacement that you will receive will be indicated.