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SNAP and TANF Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card Skimming Prevention– Tools and Resources

Resource type
Policy Memos
DATE: October 31, 2022
SUBJECT: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card Skimming Prevention – Tools and Resources
TO: All State SNAP Agencies
All Regions
All TANF State Agencies
All Regions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Department of Health and Human Services are aware of increasing reports of benefit theft by criminal actors through EBT card skimming schemes.1 As federal partners, we seek to work with state leaders of both programs to take strong preventive actions to protect clients from victimization and provide the tools and supports for program participants to proactively safeguard their benefits.

FNS and ACF understand the devastating impact the loss of benefits can have on participating households. Benefit security and prevention of unauthorized EBT card usage are critical components to ensure participating households are able to use benefits as Congress intended. After discussions with EBT processors and fraud prevention stakeholders, FNS and ACF have identified prevention measures that can be adopted to improve card security while we work towards longer-term strategies. FNS and ACF strongly encourage states to use these fraud prevention options by informing and enabling SNAP and TANF households to opt into card security services that proactively protect their cards and PINs, a list of which is included in the enclosed Appendix A of this letter. FNS and ACF are also providing a recommended list of actions state agencies can take to protect clients, enclosed in Appendix B.

Fraud prevention requires a strong federal-state partnership, and your federal partners are taking additional actions to support our mutual responsibility to protect program beneficiaries. FNS and ACF are working to offer technical webinars in the upcoming months to share best practices states are using to educate households on fraud prevention. FNS is working with retailer associations on guidance and training for the retailer community, to encourage retailers to detect and prevent skimming devices deployed in their stores and amplify fraud prevention messaging. We will continue to explore card security options in discussions with EBT processors that are used commercially and can be adopted for federal benefit programs. We are also exploring how to coordinate sharing scam alerts among partners in order to reinforce strategies already used by states. Thank you for your partnership on ensuring households have access to their benefits and in preventing fraud in federal programs. SNAP state agencies with questions should contact their respective FNS regional office representatives. State, territory, or tribal TANF agencies with questions should contact their respective TANF regional office representatives.

Cynthia Long
Administrator
Food and Nutrition Service
Ann Flagg
Director, Office of Family Assistance
Administration for Children and Families

 

Appendices


1 The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines skimming as when a device illegally installed on ATMs, POS terminals, or fuel pumps capture data or record cardholders’ PINs. Criminals use data to create fake debit or credit cards and then steal from victims’ accounts (website).
2 Example SNAP client resources – Protect Your Benefits from Skimming! (NY), Protect Your Benefits From Scams (MA), and EBT Card Safety and Fraud Prevention (AZ)

Updated: 10/31/2022