DENVER (Aug. 28, 2023) — Some Coloradans who are victims of electronic theft of their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Adult Financial or Colorado Works benefits through card skimming, card cloning or other similar methods may be eligible to have that money replaced, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has announced.
Based on new federal guidelines passed by Congress in December 2022, some Colorado Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) benefits stolen via electronic theft from Oct. 1, 2022, forward may be eligible for replacement. States can now use federal funds to provide these replacements.
Cardholders who believe they have had benefits stolen between Oct. 1, 2022, and June 30 have until Sept. 1 to report the fraud. Cardholders believing they had benefits stolen after July 1 have 30 days to report the loss.
Only benefits lost through electronic theft are eligible for replacement. Benefits cannot be replaced if a physical EBT card was lost or stolen, if the card owner gave their card number and/or PIN to someone and their benefits were stolen, or if they wrote their PIN on their EBT card.
“We are pleased that there is now an avenue for people to get benefits returned to them that were stolen via card skimming or cloning,” said Karla Maraccini, director of CDHS’s Food and Energy Assistance Division. “We urge anyone who feels they may be a victim of electronic theft to contact their county as soon as possible.”
Cardholders who suspect they are a victim of third-party fraud/electronic benefit theft must contact their local county human services office for more information. To request replacement of stolen benefits, they must fill out the EBT stolen-benefits form (also available in Spanish) and return it to their local county human services office.
Since the beginning of July, Colorado has returned $167,516.58 in stolen funds to 255 recipients of SNAP and other benefits.
How to prevent theft of electronic benefits
There are simple steps EBT users can take to protect their benefits. Those steps include changing your PIN often, avoiding simple PINs, keeping your PIN and card number secret, reporting suspicious activity, and immediately freezing your card to stop new purchases by logging into the ebtEDGE mobile app or Cardholder Portal. Learn more about protecting EBT benefits on the Colorado EBT web page.
Electronic theft happens when a card-skimming device captures a user’s information. Card skimmers are external devices that thieves attach over a real credit card slot, usually at self-checkout stands. As customers swipe their cards into the skimmer, the device saves and stores card information immediately. If a credit card slot looks different from the other card readers at the store, it might be a setup for card-skimming fraud.
Before sliding a credit card through the machine, users should gently tug on the reader to ensure it is securely attached; skimmers will easily pop off with little effort. There is often a small camera attached to capture PIN numbers as they are entered, so users should cover their finger with their other hand while pressing the buttons.
If a user finds a credit card skimmer, they should contact the store manager or the police to file a police report. This is a necessary step so that the device can be placed safely in the hands of authorities.
The CDHS Food and Energy Assistance Division (FEAD) administers the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program exists to safeguard the health and well-being of low income, financially eligible households by providing food assistance benefits redeemable for food items at authorized retailers.