If you had your SNAP benefits stolen through a scam or card skimming sometime since October 1, 2022, you can now file to have your food stamps replaced.
*Note: The information on this page is specific to Pennsylvania residents
Laws that protect credit and debit card users from fraudulent charges do not protect EBT cards. Over the last two years, across the nation, criminals have stolen millions of dollars worth of SNAP recipients’ benefits through card skimming machines, scam text messages, or other phishing schemes to gain access to the victim’s EBT card number and PIN.
Congress passed legislation in December 2022 to allow states to replace benefits that:
- were stolen through phishing, skimming or other scams AND
- were stolen between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2024.
If you had a charge to your SNAP card that was not made by you or someone in your family:
- change your PIN number right away to prevent future theft by calling the EBT hotline on the back of your card, and
- report the stolen benefits to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services by either:
a.) Filling out this claim form online.
c.) Calling your CAO
d.) If you call the Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-893 or 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia, they can mail you the form to complete and send in.
DEADLINES TO FILE:
If your benefits were stolen between October 1, 2022 and July 12, 2023, you have until September 10, 2023 to file a claim to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to replace your benefits.
If your benefits were stolen after July 12, 2023, you have 60 calendar days from the date of the first theft to report the theft to the Dept. of Human Services. There are a number of ways to report the theft (see #2 in the section just above). If you call to report your stolen benefits, you must then submit the claim form within 30 days of your call or your benefits cannot be replaced. When mailing that form, make sure to leave enough time for it to arrive within 30 days!
What will happen when I file my claim?
First, the Dept. of Human Services will cancel out your current EBT card and send you a new one that you will need to set a new PIN for. If you need your new card right away, you can pick up your replacement card in person at the County Assistance Office. You should use a different PIN on your new card than your previous one.
The Dept. of Human Services will take up to 30 days to investigate your claim. They will then mail you a notice telling you if they approved or denied your claim.
- If approved, you should have your benefits within 10 days from the day of approval (at most, 40 days from the day you filed your claim).
- If denied, you will have the right to file an appeal.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BENEFITS
These general tips can help you with keeping your benefits safe:
- Keep the SNAP EBT PIN a secret. Do not share your PIN with anyone outside your household. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
- Check the SNAP EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you see an unauthorized charge, change your EBT PIN immediately to stop the thief from making any new purchases. When you change the PIN anyone attempting to gain access to the EBT account via a duplicate card will be restricted.
- Check card reading machines to make sure there’s nothing suspicious attached to the card swiper or keypad. The skimming device can be difficult to detect but is often bigger than the original machine and may hide parts of the machine.
Be suspicious of any text messages that suggest that your benefits have stopped or that your card has been deactivated.
- PA Dept. of Human Services does send text messages, but they always come from their phone number: 1-833-648-1964. Their text messages are never very specific, and will often refer you to check for notices on COMPASS. Text messages that appear to come from an email address are scams.
- Never enter in your EBT card number or PIN when calling any phone number other than the EBT hotline, 1-888-EBT-PENN (1-888-328-7366). This number is on the back of your EBT card. You can also access your EBT balance using the MY COMPASS PA mobile app.
- When in doubt about the status of your benefits, call the customer service center at 1-877-395-8930 or if you are in Philadelphia, call 215-560-7226.
- Please report text messaging scams to the PA Dept. of Human Services fraud tip line: 1-844-DHS-TIPS (1-844-347-8477)
- Read more about known scams on this DHS webpage.
How can I check my transaction history?
You can hear a listing of your last ten transactions by calling the EBT Hotline, 1-888-EBT-PENN (1-888-328-7366).
You can use any of these trusted online sources for viewing more of your transaction history:
- MyCOMPASS PA mobile app (Apple) (Android)
- ConnectEBT mobile app ( Apple) (Android)
- Providers mobile app
- Connect EBT website
Will the Dept. of Human Services replace all of my stolen benefits?
According to federal rules, the maximum amount you can receive in a single reimbursement is up to two times your regular monthly SNAP benefit, even if the amount that was stolen is greater. You can only receive two reimbursements in a federal fiscal year (every federal fiscal year is October 1st – September 30th).
One reimbursement can cover more than one fraudulent charge.
What about stolen Pandemic EBT (school meals) benefits?
Sadly, federal rules do not cover stolen P-EBT benefits.
Do I have to file a police report to have my stolen benefits replaced?
No, you do not have to file a police report to be eligible for the replacement of your stolen EBT benefits. However, the PA Department of Human Services is encouraging people to file a police report because it may help them find and prosecute the theft from your EBT card.
Will my benefits be replaced if they were stolen by a close relative, friend, or someone else with whom I shared my EBT card?
Anyone who believes that food and/or cash benefits were stolen from their EBT card is encouraged to request the replacement of stolen benefits using the Dept. of Human Services’s form. However, benefits stolen by someone who you willingly gave your card and PIN to will not be replaced.
How will I receive my benefits if the Dept. of Human Services approves my claim?
If you are eligible for reimbursement, the state will put your replacement benefits onto the new EBT card they issue to you after the reported theft.
What happens after September 30, 2024?
SNAP benefits, and EBT cards in general, do not have the legal consumer protections in place that credit cards and debit cards do. When SNAP benefits theft became more common, Congress passed legislation allowing recipients to reclaim stolen benefits as a stopgap measure while Congress works on a more permanent solution to increase security and reduce benefit thefts. This temporary measure expires September 30, 2024. Unless Congress acts, benefits stolen after that date will not be able to be replaced.
As Congress debates the rules around SNAP in the Farm Bill (which is due in 2023), part of that discussion should include how to strengthen the security of EBT cards. You can contact your member of Congress to tell them your priorities for how to improve the SNAP program and that protecting SNAP recipients from theft matters to you.
What about benefits stolen before October 1, 2022?
Congress did not enact legislation to cover those stolen benefits. However, some states (not Pennsylvania, yet) have passed legislation to help victims of theft and use state funds to replace benefits that were stolen prior to October 1, 2022. We strongly support Pennsylvania taking similar action, and encourage you to do the following: