SNAP Skimming Resources
What is SNAP skimming?
Recently, criminals have started skimming data from the EBT cards used by SNAP clients. While credit card skimming, especially related to fuel purchases, has been around for some time, EBT card skimming is a relatively new phenomenon. The first incident of EBT card skimming in Texas was reported to the OIG in February 2022.
Perpetrators place skimming devices on the retailers’ credit card terminals. Individuals posing as legitimate patrons usually accomplish this during public store hours. The skimmed data is transmitted remotely and then placed on a cloned magnetic swipe card. The stolen information is used to purchase goods from other stores, often in another state. The purchased goods tend to be items that can be resold for cash.
What is the impact of SNAP skimming?
The amount skimmed usually represents most, if not all, of the victim’s monthly benefit amount. The impact on the individual or household is tremendous. SNAP benefits often account for a large percentage of participants’ grocery budgets, leaving victims struggling to afford food for themselves and their families.
Victims must contact HHS Lone Star Card Help Desk at (800) 777-7328 to have their card canceled and replaced.
In some instances, replacement benefits may be available. To request replacement benefits, SNAP recipients must visit a local HHS office. For more information on the replacement process, please visit the HHS SNAP fraud benefit replacement page.
What should you look for?
Card skimmers often look like part of the card reader, making them difficult to detect, but clients and retailers can identify the devices by looking for the following:
- Evidence of loose pieces that have been glued or tapped in place.
- Places where a video camera may face the card reader or PIN pad of a register.
- Number keys that feel soft, spongy or covered in plastic.
Who should you tell?
If you encounter a suspicious device immediately notify store management and local law enforcement.
If you believe your SNAP benefits have been stolen or that your EBT card (Lone Star card) has been compromised, immediately contact HHS Card Services at (800) 777-7328 to cancel the card. A new card should arrive in the mail within seven days, allowing clients to access their balance. After canceling their cards, SNAP clients are encouraged to report the incident to the OIG. Call (800) 436-6184 or use the red "Report Fraud" button above.
To request replacement benefits, SNAP recipients must visit a local HHS office and fill out Form H1854, Affidavit for Unauthorized Use of EBT Benefits. If individuals are unable to visit a local office due to factors such as age, disability, distance, or inability to appoint an authorized representative, they can call their local HHSC office to have the form mailed to them. Once the claim is reviewed, HHSC will inform the individuals by mail within two weeks if they are eligible for replacement benefits.
Benefits replaced cannot exceed the amount stolen or an amount equal to two months of the household’s SNAP benefits, whichever is less. Please visit the HHS SNAP fraud benefit replacement page for more information on the process, including important deadlines.
You can help your fellow Texans by sharing information about this growing crime. Below are some resources to help!
OIG Ad Hoc Report on SNAP Skimming (Mar. 2023)
OIG Fraud Alert (Sept. 2022)
Information for SNAP Clients from HHSC (Feb. 2023)
Information for Retailers from USDA-FNS (Dec. 2022)
Social Media Post (Identifying Skimmers)
Card skimmers are becoming more advanced. Beware of added pieces, soft or spongy number keys, or cameras facing the pin pad. Report suspicious devices immediately! Link: http://hhs.oig.texas.gov/snap-skimming
Social Media Post (For Retail Associations)
Do you accept SNAP benefits at your store? If so, thieves may be targeting your point-of-sale devices. Link: http://hhs.oig.texas.gov/snap-skimming
Social Media Post (For SNAP Clients)
If you use SNAP benefits, thieves are targeting you! Check the card reader for added pieces, soft or spongy number keys, or cameras facing the pin pad. Link: http://hhs.oig.texas.gov/snap-skimming