EBT Reader Grocery Store
June 26, 2023

The SNAP Skimming Scam: What It Is, and How to Protect Yourself

The SNAP Skimming Scam: What It Is, and How to Protect Yourself

Older adults and other beneficiaries of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits could be vulnerable to SNAP Skimming – a scam for stealing benefits

According to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), card skimming scams directly copy card and personal identification number (PIN) information from EBT cardholders using a device (skimmers) placed on top of a store's card reading machine. The stolen data is used to access EBT accounts and spend SNAP and cash benefits. Skimming can happen anywhere a person swipes an EBT card, including automated teller machines (ATMs). 

Skimmers are designed to look like the card reading machine that they fit over and will likely be difficult to notice. However, there are some signs that may indicate that a skimmer is being used, including: 

  • Some block LED indicator lights or illuminated backlit keypad numbers, or partially cover stylus/pen trays. 
  • The faceplate may be loose, appear ill-fitting, or be easily dislodged from the body of the machine. 
  • The faceplate may be miscolored, texturally mismatched, or otherwise appear different than the body of the card reading machine. 

New York State recently received federal approval to replace stolen SNAP benefits in certain circumstances and is finalizing the processes necessary to issue replacement benefits. An application for replacement of stolen SNAP benefits and instructions will be made available in July at otda.ny.gov/ebtscam. This website also contains important information on how to keep benefits safe. If you know someone who has had their SNAP benefits stolen, let them know to report the card as stolen, and contact the local department of social services. 

For more information and to help prevent SNAP skimming, see these resources from OTDA: 


Other Scams to Steal SNAP Benefits 

Older adults should also watch out for phishing scams, which appear as official and legitimate emails, text messages, or phone calls that try to get cardholders to disclose information about themselves of their EBT card. Thieves can use this information to access accounts and spend SNAP and cash benefits. Learn more here.