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New Tool Protects Against EBT Card Skimming


There’s a new tool available for low-income New Yorkers who receive government assistance via an Electronic Benefit Transfer card to protect themselves from criminals who use “skimming” devices to steal benefits. A new EBT lock/unlock tool on the ConnectEBT app will enable card users to easily lock their EBT cards when not in use to protect their benefits from scammers.

“Low-income New Yorkers shopping for food and other essential items for their families should never have to find out at the checkout that their benefits have been stolen by scammers,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “We will continue to take action to protect New Yorkers from scam-related theft and ensure that EBT cardholders have effective tools to protect their benefits.”

Across New York State and nationwide, thieves are using card skimmers, covertly placed over card reading machines at legitimate retailers, to copy EBT card and personal identification number information from EBT users. Scammers use the stolen card data to drain funds from victims’ EBT accounts.

The new lock/unlock EBT card feature helps prevent skimming theft by enabling EBT cardholders to quickly and easily lock their card through the ConnectEBT app after making a purchase. Locking the EBT card blocks all purchases, balance inquiries, and transactions on the card.

When shopping, consumers should inspect the card reading machine for an overlay device that may hide parts of the machine or anything unusual like glue marks, damaged or loose parts. If anyone suspects something is wrong with the machine, they should not use their card, notify a store manager, and contact the local police.

Additionally, EBT card users should:

  • Protect their benefits by shielding the PIN pad when entering their PIN.
  • Change their PIN frequently and do not share it. It is best to change the PIN immediately after each transaction.
  • Lock their card immediately after use.
  • Check their EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges.
  • If a transaction is unexpectedly declined or a user receives an error code, contact the EBT Customer Services Helpline to verify the transactions on the account.
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