Erie County is currently grappling with a concerning issue as it investigates the theft of more than 700 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) benefits designed to support individuals and families in need.
The Erie County Department of Social Services has reported that many residents have filed applications claiming their benefits have been stolen.
The culprit behind this distressing situation is Electronic Benefit Transfer skimming, a method involving the illegal copying of EBT cards and personal identification numbers (PINs) through skimming devices.
These devices are secretly placed on top of store card-reading machines, allowing criminals to access and spend victims’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary cash benefits.
Understanding Erie County EBT Skimming
Electronic Benefit Transfer skimming is a criminal activity that threatens the security of EBT cardholders.
Skimming devices, often invisible to the average person, capture the card information and PINs of unsuspecting individuals as they make legitimate transactions.
Once in possession of this data, criminals can easily access and misuse the victims’ EBT accounts, which are intended to provide essential assistance for purchasing food and other necessities.
In response to this alarming issue, the Erie County Department of Social Services has provided valuable tips for EBT cardholders to safeguard their benefits and protect themselves from EBT skimming:
- Change Your PIN Regularly: One of the most effective steps to enhance the security of your EBT benefits is to change your PIN immediately and every month. Frequent changes make it significantly more challenging for criminals to access your EBT account.
- Protect Your EBT Card and PIN Number: Keep your EBT card safe and secure, just like any other valuable possession. Avoid sharing your PIN with anyone, and refrain from writing it down or storing it in an easily accessible location.
- Monitor Your EBT Account: Regularly check your EBT account for any unauthorized transactions or unusual activity. The sooner you detect and report suspicious transactions, the quicker authorities can take action to prevent further loss.
If you suspect that your EBT benefits have been stolen, it’s crucial to take immediate action to rectify the situation and minimize potential losses. You can contact the Erie County Department of Social Services by calling 888-328-6399. Additionally, you may visit www.connectEBT.com or use the connected mobile app to report the theft and seek assistance.