💳 EBT cards only swipe, making them an easier target for thieves

💳 NJ SNAP users may have lost $355,000 to electronic fraud in one year

💳 Cardholders who've already been targeted have until Aug. 30 to make a claim

Card fraud also targets individuals who are getting by on SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

In fact, the demographic is even more vulnerable to this crime because SNAP programs across the country issue electronic benefit transfer cards that only swipe and are not equipped with fraud-reduction chip technology.

For quite a while, victims of this fraud have had no way to recoup the funds they've lost electronically to thieves through card skimming schemes. But now there's a plan in place in New Jersey to get some stolen money back to the residents who need it most.

The New Jersey Department of Human Services has announced that it now has approval to use federal funds to replace food and cash assistance benefits stolen through EBT fraud. Federal lawmakers passed a law late last year to get the ball rolling on reimbursement.

"Participating households rely on these benefits to put food on the table and provide for themselves and their families," said DHS Commissioner Sarah Adelman. "This fraudulent activity puts an unfair and unnecessary burden on households trying to make ends meet."

With the new plan in place, New Jersey can use federal dollars to replace benefits stolen electronically since Oct. 1, 2022. It also covers electronic theft that occurs through Sept. 30, 2024.

But officials need to hear from the people who've been victimized in order to get money out the door.

"We encourage anyone who has had their benefits stolen to report the theft and submit a claim as soon as they notice their benefits are missing," said Elisa Neira, deputy commissioner of social services for DHS.

Residents can file a claim by calling or visiting their county board of social services, or by filling out this form that's available at njsnap.gov.

According to DHS, card skimming took an estimated $355,000 in 2022 alone from SNAP recipients in New Jersey.

Anyone who believes they've had funds stolen between Oct. 1 of last year and July 1 of this year has until Aug. 30 to submit a request for reimbursement. Those who've been targeted since the beginning of this month have 30 days from the date they discovered the theft to submit a request.

On top of the federal help, New Jersey is offering the same monetary protection for people who've lost General Assistance or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds to electronic fraud. These benefits use the same EBT system as SNAP.

To reduce the amount of fraud going forward, DHS urges cardholders to take the following steps:

⚫ Do not share your PIN, and cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine

⚫ Check card reading machines for suspicious attachments

⚫ Do not give your card to anyone outside of your household

⚫ Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges (download thr ConnectEBT mobile app)

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