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With SNAP benefits, you use an EBT card to buy food at the store. But we’re hearing about scammers using illegal skimmers to steal card information, then grabbing your benefits for themselves. Here’s how to spot and avoid these scams.

Scammers sneak illegal card skimmers onto payment terminals in stores, so they can grab data from your card’s magnetic stripe. All without you knowing a thing. Since EBT cards require PINs, scammers find ways to get those codes: they might try to phish you, using texts or calls to get you to share your PIN, or set up hidden cameras by the card skimmers to record you entering your code.

Once they have your information, the scammers create duplicate cards and drain your benefits. They can even find out how much is stored in your account by calling the state’s benefit hotline. Even worse, you probably won’t know what’s happened until you’re at a register with a cart full of groceries and find your card nearly (or totally) empty. 

Here are some ways to avoid these scams:

  • Spot card skimmers. Before you swipe your EBT — or any — card, pay attention to the card reader. Is it loose, off-center, or do parts of it wiggle? Then don’t put your card there. Report it to the store manager and consider shopping elsewhere.
  • Change your PIN oftenChange your EBT PIN at least once a month, right before you get your next benefits.
  • Watch for phishing. State agencies and EBT processors will never call or text you to ask for your PIN or card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you see any, change your PIN right away to stop the thief from making new purchases  — and contact your local SNAP office.

For more information on what to do if your SNAP benefits get stolen, check out the USDA website

Scammers are skimming EBT cards to steal benefits.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Gary D Trchalek
May 30, 2024

Great information! The sorry scammers continue to go to "lower than a snake's belly!

Patricia Prince
May 30, 2024

This was very useful information for me to obtain thank you

May 30, 2024


Angelica Garcia
May 31, 2024

In reply to by PAUL ROBERTS

I agree I have work so hard as a mother and currently still going through identity theft and I agree it has destroyed my life as well it’s so hard no one well ever understand what your going through unless it’s happening at this point in my life I lift my hand with so much emotion ask God for help and guidance stay positive and have faith is all I have left.

Alice D
May 30, 2024

Great info!

Henry M Logue
May 30, 2024

Outstanding and very valuable information. Extremely useful especially for seniors that seem to be a favorite target of scammers. Thank you and may the Holy Trinity bless you 🙏🙂

Susan Wells
May 31, 2024

In reply to by Henry M Logue

Great info especially the part about changing your pin # each month right before you receive your benefits! I'd never have thought to do that but now I will. I've not had trouble with my EBT card but have had a LOT of trouble with my online bank account, which I'm about to close this week also!!! Scammers make me so mad! !

Ellen C Nash
May 31, 2024

Very helpful.

May 31, 2024

This just happened to me this month. I used my card for a small amount before work and after work stopped to grab a soda my account was at $0, I just got my benefits that day! Harrisburg is investigating it. I always check the machine before I put my card in but being in a hurry I didn't do it that time and paid the price! I definitely won't make that mistake again!

June 04, 2024

I publish a lot of Youtube videos about scam, called the Scaminator. However, for the SNAP scam to happen, the store manager MUST be in cohoot with the scammers to allow the skimmer to be installed, even cameras. Large store like Walmart won't allow anyone to install cameras to extract the PIN code. These issues happen in mini grocery store where the store clerk ONLY makes 7 dollars per hour and the scammers pay him 400 dollars additional weekly if they allow the skimmer to stick to the card reader. Shop in larger food store

Dorothy (Henne…
June 03, 2024

Thank you.
This is information is useful.
Last month I began to receive calls.
With a 612 prefix ending in like 9900. So I answered.
A woman said "is this Dorothy and said it was regarding my Snap Benefits to please verify my information. With this thick , distant sounding accent. So I told her. If you have the info. You read it out first and I'll verify.
And I said "who are you with"? Blah blah blah..
They haven't got me yet.
They call every so often about different things to scam. But they keep trying. ... Thanks FTC

Euggie Monad
June 05, 2024

They got me, on June 1st at 6:55pm...just filed a police report with Gwinnett County Police Dept. Officer said it sounded to him like they skimmed my EBT card. This probably happened at a WalMart in New Orleans. The thieves then made a duplicate card and used it at a MetroChef store in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where they drained my entire foodstamp balance of $276.26 -- but left three cents on the account. Wasn't that nice of them? I called the store manager and he was very cooperative, said he has video of the suspect transaction and will provide it to the police when they come. Turns out the thieves fabricate new cards with new magnetic strips on the back, then get the PIN from the skimmer they used.

Jan D
June 05, 2024

I live in TX and used my bet card at Walmart. There was a good size balance left on that card. Fast forward, my next shopping event the card was declined due to a zero balance! Talk about shocked. So did some research….someone used MY card in FLORIDA the same day! (I have never been to Florida and if I were there on that same day it would have taken a private jet to accomplish that feat. If I had that kind of money I wouldn’t need an ebt card) I digress. Checked my transactions. Got the Walmart store number and notified HHS. When you apply for the card it says if lost or stolen there will NOT be a replacement. Protect it like your driver’s license. I persisted. It took months but the lost balance was replaced on my card. Going forward HHS now has a message when you call saying, if your card is lost or stolen press (whatever number). From first denying returned stolen funds HHS must have been inundated with theft to even admit it happened. Becoming a cashless society is the hacker’s paradise.

melodie stewart
June 07, 2024

& TY for this update for Food Stamps because I remember I used my card at a Dollar Tree & I have $55.00 on it & when I went to check it was all gone & I think they should investigate all stores that have these Credit Cards & Ebt machines all over & see if they're loose because I know for fact if you ask the Manager they will look at you & tell there are very busy to look at their machines & to me they don't care. But TY for the info & this is a eyeopener