~120,000 MA households asked to re-PIN EBT cards to protect against stolen SNAP benefits
Thank you all for tuning in to the special Coalition meeting on Tuesday morning. We have summarized what DTA shared below, along with action steps. This is an URGENT and “ALL HANDS ON DECK” situation over the next month. We really appreciate everything you can do within your community.
The EBT theft problem:
An organized “criminal ring” is stealing SNAP and DTA cash benefits by making essentially a duplicate EBT card. To learn more, see DTA’s skimming webpage. Yesterday, DTA reported:
- Nearly $1 million SNAP benefits have been stolen from approx 2,000 households.
- Nearly $250,000 DTA cash benefits (TAFDC and EAEDC) have been stolen.
- Currently, DTA is able to replace the cash benefits stolen through skimming - but cannot replace SNAP that is stolen, largely because of federal USDA rules.
What DTA is doing to address this:
This issue has escalated to a point where DTA needs to take drastic action to protect benefits. DTA is working with law enforcement and USDA, but there are very limited options right now. Here’s what DTA will be doing in the next few weeks:
- Starting 8/15 through 8/17, DTA will send a written notice to approximately 120,000 households in the Brockton, Quincy, and Nubain Square DTA local office coverage areas, telling the household to re-PIN. This notice will also be on DTA Connect.
- Over 75% of the SNAP cases and 87% of the cash cases impacted so far are concentrated in these 3 areas.
- DTA will remove the household PIN starting 8/23 to 8/25 for any household who has not re-PINed between 7/20 and 8/23, 8/24, or 8/25 (depending on the local office). At this time, DTA will also text households whose PIN was removed.
- If the PIN is removed, the EBT card will not work at an ATM machine (for cash) or at a retailer POS device. Households will not be able to use their EBT card - cannot use their benefits - until they add a new PIN to the card. Households do not need a new card.
- DTA will send another notice the week of 9/6 to households who haven’t yet added a new PIN to their EBT card. DTA will also be doing specialized outreach to certain vulnerable groups - more details to come.
We are very concerned it has come to this - but we understand this decision and think DTA is making the right call here. This is not DTA’s fault, it is the fault of the criminals who are stealing benefits from low income families.
Attached is a summary of what DTA’s actions will be, provided by DTA at Coalition on Tuesday.
Map and action items for the impacted communities:
See map below of cities and towns covered by the Brockton, Quincy, and Nubian Square offices. Click here for an interactive Google Maps. For a list of the cities and towns, click here.
- Try to connect ASAP with any/all SNAP households you work with who live in these areas to get them to re-PIN. If they re-PIN before 8/23, 8/24, or 8/25 (depending on their local office area), they will not be included in the group whose PINs will be removed.
Please share this email with your networks. More to come in terms of retailer communications and getting the word out.
Action items for the rest of the state:
Encourage households to re-PIN their cards ASAP. Beyond that - DTA advises households to re-PIN every time before SNAP is issued (SNAP is issued the 1-14th of the month based on the last digit of SSN, and Emergency Allotments also go out on the 2nd business day of the month). We know this is not feasible for many households - but is the best advice for now.
How to get help with a new PIN & how to report skimming:
- Call the EBT customer service number - 800-997-2555.
- For more info on how to re-PIN, fliers and social media graphics in 6 languages, see Mass.gov/ProtectYourEBT
- To report skimming, contact the staff who handle fraud at DTA - 800-372-8399. You can also call the Assistance Line or SAO, or the case manager for TAFDC/EAEDC cases.