RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has announced those who lost Food and Nutrition Services benefits through card skimming, cloning or other forms of fraud are eligible to have their stolen FNS benefits (formerly known as food stamps) replaced.
NCDHHS is aware thefts of FNS benefits through EBT card skimming and fraud rose during December 2022 through June 2023. While the number of thefts has declined in recent months, they have not been eliminated. Since December 2022, the department has tracked more than 3,500 thefts that were reported to the EBT call center totaling about $2,095,646. The median amount stolen was $391 and the thefts span 91 out of 100 North Carolina counties.
Additionally, NCDHHS has become aware of a potential scam targeting FNS benefits. NCDHHS recently announced at least 680 EBT cards were successfully compromised statewide, and more than 9,000 cards have been identified as potentially compromised. The compromised cards are being used to steal money from the beneficiaries. Out of an abundance of caution the potentially compromised cards have been cancelled and replacement cards have been issued to FNS beneficiaries.
Per the USDA, FNS beneficiaries whose benefits were reported stolen between Oct. 1, 2022, and Aug. 25, 2023, can request to have their benefits replaced by submitting an affidavit to their County Department of Social Services by Sept. 27, 2023. The affidavits can be completed over the phone or can be submitted by mail, fax, in-person or email. A directory for county DSS offices can be found at www.ncdhhs.gov/localDSS.
FNS beneficiaries who discover stolen benefits between Aug. 26, 2023, and Sept. 30, 2024, can request to have their benefits replaced by submitting an affidavit to their county DSS within 30 days of discovery.
Either a new EBT card will be issued when a claim is submitted and the new card will include replacement benefits; or replacement benefits will be added to a FNS beneficiary’s existing card the next day when a replacement card is not necessary. New cards are typically received by the beneficiary within three to seven business days.
NCDHHS recommends individuals using EBT cards take the following actions to prevent electronic benefit theft and to keep their EBT account secure:
- Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. You can check your balance and/or replace a lost or stolen EBT card by visiting www.ebtedge.com, using the EBT Edge mobile app or contacting the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.
- Check for the following signs that may indicate that a skimmer is being used on a card reading machine:
- Blockage of the LED indicator lights, blocking of the illuminated backlit keypad numbers or partially covered stylus/pen trays.
- Loose faceplate appears ill-fitting or can be easily dislodged from the body of the machine.
- Miscolored faceplate, texturally mismatched or otherwise appearing different than the body of the card reading machine.
- If you receive calls, texts, or email from someone asking for EBT card information or your PIN, please do not respond. Neither county DSS offices nor NCDHHS will ever ask for your EBT card information or your PIN
- Call the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328 to request a new EBT Card at no cost. Note: the new card will not contain funds that were stolen from the previous card.
- Select a difficult PIN (not continuous sequences such as 1234, or repetitive sequences such as 4444). While this may not prevent card skimming, it is a recommended safety practice.
- If you suspect card skimming, freeze your EBT card (instructions are in EBT Edge, or call the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328 for instructions) so fraudulent purchases cannot be made using your card.
- Change the PIN to your EBT card regularly, using a new number each time.
- Block out-of-state and online purchases from your EBT Edge account or the mobile app.
- Contact law enforcement to report the stolen benefits.