Food stamp scam: Card skimming used to steal SNAP benefits, USDA says

By Leada Gore

A sign seen in 2019 in the window of Armory Square Deli, 317 W. Fayette St., Syracuse, lets customers know it accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly known as food stamps. James T. Mulder 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning beneficiaries that fraudsters are using card skimming to try and steal their food stamp benefits.

The USDA said it has received several fraud reports related to SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps. According to USDA, thieves are placing a device on retailers’ card-swiping machines to illegally copy Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, card information.

“Card skimming can happen to anyone that uses a credit, debit or EBT card, including SNAP participants,” USDA said.

To help prevent card skimming, USDA advises:

  • Keep your PIN secret. Do not share your PIN with anyone outside your household. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
  • Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you notice any, change your PIN immediately to stop the thief from making any new purchases.
  • Check card reading machines to make sure there’s nothing suspicious overlayed or attached to the card swiper or keypad. The overlays can be difficult to detect but are often bigger than the original machine and may hide parts of the machine.

If you believe you are the victim of card skimming and SNAP benefits were stolen from your EBT card, contact your local SNAP office.